Downsizing and Selling a Home

10 Tips for the highly sensitive person

Image for post
Silvia & Frank via Pixabay (pixel2013)

Last summer, I downsized. Donated, sold, and recycled easily two-thirds of my home. It’s taken me eight months just to revisit that time and write this article. The swarm of feelings from shocked, disoriented, numb, and exhausted left me emotional and physically depleted.

Moving is listed as being one of the top life stressors. The unsettledness, endless details and oftentimes the unknown — is unnerving — regardless if the move is a positive choice.

I realize on one level I was leaving a space that held my family until a divorce ended the marriage. I oscillated from grief to relief. Only the beige walls witnessed me. As bittersweet as it was, I could hear the last set of memories say, good-bye for the last time as I locked the front door.

Nonetheless, eventually we will have to move from one place to another. Whether we need to downsize, relocate, upsize and everything in between — moving is difficult.

For those who are highly sensitive, moving magnifies anxiety, over-processing and overthinking as well as significantly disrupts our regular routine.

Image for post
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The moving process has multiple layers of organizing, planning, and sifting through our belongs, packing and then deciding what can and can’t take with us.

There were quite a few weeks, during my recent move, where I wish I could have strategically wrapped myself in a few layers of bubble wrap. However, that wasn’t feasible.

So, I’m sharing with you my list to hopefully easy your transition.

#1. Buying or selling a home. If possible, interview several realtors. You’ll need someone who is intuitive and yet comfortable being in the spotlight, negotiating, and making important decision with you regarding your next best home opportunity.

For example, this person will also need to be extra aware of your boundaries and call ahead to give you ample time to show your home to prospective buyers, respect your questions and give you time to make decisions.

Too many phone calls, emails and texts increases stress and pressure and is probably not your best choice in real estate agents.

Another type of agent to shy away from is what I call The Last-Minute type:

“Hey, I happen to be in the neighborhood, and I have a family with me ,right now, who are very interested in seeing your home!! We’ll be stopping by in a few minutes.”

Of course there are exceptions! And of course you want to show you home, but without respecting your boundaries, this is an unnecessary stressor.

#2. Listing and Preparing to Sell. Once you sign the paperwork, to list your home, be prepared for a lot of prep work. What happens behind the scenes is chaotic and it is critical to keep things as calm and soothing as possible.

Start the packing and prepping early.

If feasible, start a year to six months ahead of your move. During this time begin the process of sorting, recycling and donating what will not come with you. I went from drawer to drawer, room to room and through each closet.

You might have to do this twice to whittle things down to what you will keep and what can be given away, and what will fit in your new space.

As I mentioned, I was downsizing and ended up donating, recycling and selling two-thirds of our belongs. On one hand, it felt delicious, and on another hand — very disorienting.

Nonetheless, I also knew I was ready for this major and necessary change.

#3. Emotions. As a highly sensitive person, be ready for an avalanche of memories and feelings.

Those tears aren’t bad or wrong but are full of emotions.

“The first time we did such and such” — in our home — type of tears.

Image for post
Photo by S A R A H ✗ S H A R P on Unsplash

I had one closet that stirred me upside down and I could only go in there for about an hour at a time.

Remind yourself that you’ll have new first times.

  • Set aside several breaks throughout the day and evening to rest and regroup.
  • Wrap a weighted blanket around you.
  • Have a cup of herbal tea and limit caffeinated drinks.
  • Listen to music.
  • Read a chapter from your favorite book.
  • Take a warm bath — to help soothe and recalibrate your mental and emotional well-being.

#4. Be prepared. There will be last minute mishaps like the carpet cleaner doesn’t show up, or the landscaper forgot to mow the backyard and only mowed the front.

{{Of course, this will happen before the first open house and you must find someone else in a hurry.}}

There will be a series of home repairs necessary before you sell. And it seems major appliance(s) feel the energy of the transition and go caput.

Ask friends or your realtor for a list of trusted repair people.

For me one of the most helpful expenses was to have a pre-home inspection. Which turned out to be very good for my highly sensitive self. I was better able to know what needed to be fixed before our home went up for sale.

Knowing this saved me a lot of heartache, stress and headaches because it allowed me to be more in control when so much was out of control. I was then able to schedule a week for most of the repairs and it was done and over with. Phew!

#5. Hangry and Exhaustion. Have back-up meals ready. Or pick up dinner at your favorite restaurant. I also made larger meals to have leftovers. It was much easier to heat things up after a long day of work and navigating the loudness of hammers, ladders, paint, drop cloths, landscapers and such.

Having healthy food choices at the ready also helps balance out wild emotions which may pivot from exhaustion, tears, anxiety, and hangry.

#6. Staging & Staying. Most people must live in their homes while trying to sell a place, but some are fortunate that they can move out ahead.

If you decided to have your home staged, be prepared.

The staging process is like a mini move inside of a move.

Nearly all of your belongs will not be used and an entirely different style, that you are not used to, will be brought in.

For a highly sensitive person, this is hard. What you thought was lovely and pretty isn’t in the eye of a stager who’s only focus is to help you sell your home.

The color scheme, wall art, the excessive number of lamps (at least three per room), the antique looking wheelbarrow coffee table and lamb’s wool throw — might not be anything you’d choose, and it can feel invasive.

Prepare yourself ahead of time and try not take it personally. This will help a lot with the shock.

Image for post
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

#7. Be prepared for all sorts of people to walk through your home. That includes potential buyers, and neighbors who are simply curious, and as I mentioned earlier repair people.

While this is exciting, because you want to sell your place, it is also stressful.

  • Have a few empty laundry baskets at the ready so you can quickly fill them up with your children’s and/or pet’s toys or to scoop up the mail. This will tidy up well lived in areas before a showing.
  • Place a fresh set of clean hand towels under the sink in your bathroom, incase you need to change them out quickly because a prospective buyer wants to visit.
  • Have a set of wipes in the bathroom to give it a quick swish and a fresh scent.
Image for post
Photo by Cel Lisboa on Unsplash

#8. Your sleep might be off. Overthinking and overdoing can really mess up your normal sleep routine. At the end of each day, take a break one to two hours before going to bed.

Your nervous system is on high alert because your surroundings are in a state of flux. You are over processing and over sensing all the possibilities of the upcoming move.

Give yourself time to adjust each day so you can start fresh the next day.

  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.
  • Take a warm bath.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Read an easy-going novel.

#9. As hard as it is, try not to take things too personally. Like when the realtor wants to help you pack and dumps your prized set of seashells into the same box with your toothbrush.

Or makes numerous comments about how much you have left to do. (You already know, and your lists are birthing lists.)

Or some helpful person (not) unplugs your main phone because the stager decides they must put a set of large brass pine cones right where the phone was.

Let it go as much as possible. It’s not the end of the world, even if it feels like it is.

Your sweet collection of bottles and seashells are still lovely. Your colors and art and family pictures are by now tucked safely in boxes ready to be perched on a new shelf and hung on a new wall.

You will get through this. Deep breathing is portable and sure as hell helps in moments like these.

#10. The day of the move. The day of the move is honestly hell. Movers are moving. Walls get bumped. Kids have allergic reactions to something you’ll never figure out. (Have a mini first-aid kit for your family).

A mover will walk in on your while you pee.

The front door, back, and side doors will all be wide open.

Neighbors will be watching. People you’ve never spoken to will pretend they are your BFF.

Remember this:

Those who really love and know you will drop off your favorite sandwich and will slip away quietly.

{{Thank them later.}}

Bonus Tip. On the day of your move, take the sheets off the beds and stuff them into a pillowcase, with your jammies and perhaps a favorite stuffed toy. Have one for each family member and put those in your car.

Fill one or two boxes that you keep with you that includes: Coffee, tea, favorite snacks, dark chocolate, emergency first aid kit, any medications you might need, epi-pens, your favorite mug, a set of clean clothes, comb/brush, toothbrush, and a favorite book for everyone.

Pack a separate box with utensils, plates, a pot and basic ingredients for a super easy meal or better yet , if possible, order take-out.

Image for post
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

I hope this article helps you or someone you know who is moving. Especially if they are a highly sensitive individual who might need a little extra loving support.

I was very fortunate to have a supportive, detailed-oriented realtor who helped smooth over the numerous and typical bumps in selling my former home. We are now renting a sweet new home and have already had numerous new firsts and I believe we’ll have many more.

Dreamer. Poet. HSP. Empath. Licensed MH Therapist. 3 books published. 3X Top Writer. Love espressos & my chunky cat.

Get the Medium app