It’s said that moving house is one of the most stressful experiences in life, second only to a death in the family. While there’s no doubt that it can be a tough time for many people, is it really as bad as that?

The psychology of moving is actually something which scientists have been studying for decades. Way back in 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed the “Social Readjustment Rating Scale”. Participants were asked to rank a range of different stressful events in terms of the impact they had, and the death of a spouse did come in first. What you might be surprised to learn, though, is that moving house didn’t come in second- in fact, it didn’t even rank in the top forty.

That’s not to say that moving isn’t a stressful experience, though. Everyone will have a different experience of moving house, and for every person who has a smooth, stress-free experience, plenty more people will find themselves wanting to tear their hair out in frustration. A more recent (and less scientific) survey found that two-thirds of participants felt that moving was the most stressful thing they’ve done. So what’s changed since the 1960’s to make people feel this way?

It’s likely that the reason why many people dislike the actual process of moving is down to how well they cope with change. We as humans thrive on familiarity and routine, and a new home throws things out of balance. Everything is different, from the positioning of everything inside the house, to learning your way around a new area. If you have a family, then there’s the added hassle of having to find a new school for your children, too. In short, moving house interferes with our territorial instincts, and hence people tend to feel a sense of unease and stress both during the moving process, and while they settle in to their new home.

The effects of moving aren’t just psychological, though. Stress can affect your entire body, so many people report physical symptoms, from extra aches and pains throughout their body, to being unable to sleep through the night. This is often linked to an uneasy mind- if you’re up all night worrying about the logistics of your move, or how you’re going to finance it, then you won’t be able to drift off to sleep. When you’re stressed, any minor pain can also be amplified, as your mind fixates on it to try and distract you from the problem at hand. A stressful move can therefore leave you feeling like you’ve just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson- not a very pleasant experience!

It’s children who suffer the most, though, especially if they are subjected to multiple moves in a relatively short period of time. If they constantly find themselves shunted across the country, then their school performance is likely to decline as a result, and they may also be less happy in later life, along with having fewer friends.

As with most things in life, though, the stress surrounding moving house is only as bad as you make it. If you start to look at the positives of the move- and there will certainly be more than a few- then you can trick your brain into overlooking those territorial instincts. Usually, your new house will be an upgrade, so start thinking about what you’ll do with all that extra space! Settling in doesn’t have to be a chore, either, since it lets you indulge your inner interior designer.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the stress of moving is to simply choose the right estate agent- one which will take care of everything for you and keep you fully updated on how things are going. Most of the stress during this time comes from worrying about making a sale and finding the right property to move into afterwards. Don’t let moving house be a nightmare for you- make the smart choice, and take the stress off before it even starts.