People say that moving to a new house is the most stressful thing that can happen, not counting the death of a family member. Is this true?
Are the changes really worse than other important events in life, for example, suffer a terminal illness, the death of parents, give birth, be fired from work or take care of a newborn who does not sleep at night?
The comparative data of stress levels caused by the different events are somewhat old.
The most well-known scale is the Holmes and Rahe Social Adjustment or Stress Scale (SRRS), developed in 1967 by the psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe.
They asked people how stressful 43 different events seemed and made a list that measures the impact of those events, in which, for example, 100 points are given to the death of a spouse and 11 to misdemeanors. This allows you to mark what happened to you and calculate a total for the events of your life.
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In the list, the first place is the death of a spouse and the second the divorce. In third place is marital separation and then going to prison and the death of a close family member.
Moving is not even on this list. The closest events are to have a very high mortgage at number 20 on the list, change the standard of living at 28 and have a small mortgage at 37.
While the SRRS is not the only scale of events in life, I have not been able to find a scale that has the changes at the top of the list. It is also debatable how useful these scales really are.
For starters, we are not very good at remembering what or when something happened. We usually assume that they happened more recently. And in other cases, we forget them completely. When a group of women was asked to mark the events that happened to them on a monthly basis and, later, to remind them of them after 10 months, only 25% of the events were on both lists, showing how easy it is to forget things.
Depends on the situation
The other problem with scales is that they assume that a given event will always have the same impact, regardless of the situation. Losing employment causes stress but how much depends on the circumstances.
Losing a job that you like is different from losing one you hate, just like moving from home can be a simple change forced by war or the need to leave your country forever. These situations are hardly comparable.
To this must be added the fact that reactions to the same situation vary from person to person.
There are many factors at play: it is not only about the event but about the vision one has of it and if one feels that it has the strength to deal with it and with a support network.
It also depends on emotions and knowledge; There are many people who thrive in stressful jobs because they enjoy facing challenges.
Even when extreme events are taken into account as a natural catastrophe, few people suffer from post-traumatic stress; most find a way to overcome it.
The everyday basis
Day to day, for many, it is more stressful than moving away from home.
Another type of approach to this issue is not based on measuring dramatic events, but the small annoyances of daily life, such as that one loses things or that the devices do not work.
Maybe this would be the ideal category for the removals, as they certainly involve a lot of inconvenience. If one gathers all the investigations on the causes of diseases, the important events are only responsible for 12% of the bond, while the daily discomforts are more closely related.
Keep in mind that scales to measure the impact of daily discomforts allow one to decide if something stresses, instead of deciding that a certain event is inevitably stressful. In any case, the important thing is how stressful you perceive a certain event, how much you think about it and if you think you can overcome it.
Pack the problems
In the end, although at the moment it seems the worst, the changes do not appear as particularly stressful events in the lists.
So, where do the removals appear in studies of daily discomforts?
According to a test group consisting of middle-aged adults in the United States, “housing, investments and taxes” is eighth, behind weight issues, family health, home repairs, having too much to do and losing things. So, even in the list of daily annoyances, the removals do not seem to be that bad.
Specific studies on stress by removals are scarce, most are about migrations and involve many additional factors. There is a British study where 75% of respondents said that moving for work was stressful at different levels. However, this does not tell us how it compares with other events.
In the end, there is little evidence that moving is almost as stressful as the death of a spouse or a divorce.
A change metaphorically represents the law of one’s life marked by change. Stress arises by leaving behind the force of habit, since each person has their own routines and comforts in their home, an environment that represents, from the point of view of coaching, their comfort zone. That is to say, the place where you feel safe one hundred percent. A change of house removes the person from their comfort zone from the physical and emotional point of view.
When making a move, the family has to adapt not only to a new house but also to integrate into a new neighbourhood, discover where the shopping and leisure areas are, know where the nearest library is or which is the best itinerary to go to work … That is to say, a change of house brings with it many other changes that can generate stress.
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