Take control of your emotions

Often when we face a major change—especially one as big as moving from home to a retirement community—our first instinct is to avoid thinking about it. We keep busy and don’t allow anyone to mention it.

But willpower won’t make it go away; the change you face will stay in the back of your mind and cause you stress whenever you think about it.

Whenever you face a change, what you need is clarity.

The best way to get clarity is to look right into that swirling maze of emotions you are feeling, name each one, and then calmly work out a plan of action.


First, acknowledge what you are feeling: sad, overwhelmed, scared or worried. Don’t get distracted. Focus, and allow yourself time to feel and to grieve if you need to. If you do get distracted, keep trying.

This is an important transition in your life—and it will probably bring you many new joys—but at this early stage, you need to acknowledge your emotions and allow yourself to feel them.

Then, sit quietly either alone or with a supportive friend, family member or adviser and dig deeper to find out what is making you upset:

  • Are you sad about the loss of your home and familiar surroundings?
  • Are you worried about all the details involved in selling your home?
  • Are you overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to get rid of?
  • Are you frustrated because you don’t want to give up your independence?
  • Are you angry because you feel like you have no choice in the matter?
  • Are you afraid of the unknown, of living in unfamiliar surroundings?

After you discuss these specific feelings with friends or family, you may want to widen your team of support to include local retirement community staff, a professional mover or a real estate agent. Ask them what specific action you can take on each issue. Remember, knowledge is power. All you need to do is ask; people are always happy to help.

For example, you might choose a retirement community near your neighbourhood to maintain your existing social life. A caring professional organizer who specializes in moves like yours could help you go through your things. You could visit the local retirement community several times and get to know the residents and routines so that they will be more familiar.

We often can’t control the events in our lives, but we can control how we respond. We always have a choice about how we react to change. Even doing nothing is a choice, but it is always better to choose action.

If you think that what you did today was small—perhaps you only made a phone call—remember that it was important. It is a step forward and it put you in control—and that is worth celebrating!

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