How to Manage the Emotions of Downsizing

Change is uncomfortable. When faced with the necessity of downsizing, emotions can take control. Here are some tips on how to make downsizing a little less stressful.


Never forget that walking away from something is brave…even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.” –Anonymous


Downsizing is the ultimate feat of walking away. Walking away from things, walking away from the familiar. And while downsizing is a trend among retirees and is oftentimes a positive change, the process can still be stressful.

Yes, it’s physically taxing, but when faced with the prospect of downsizing, it’s the emotions that can be overwhelming. If you’re planning for or thinking about a move that requires downsizing, the most effective way to manage the emotions in a healthy manner is to face them head-on.


It’s OK to Be Authentic

Normally, grief is associated with the loss of a loved one. But the feelings of loss can be just as intense when faced with losing what used to be.

“Don’t feel as if you have to show the world a happy face,” says psychotherapist Jacob Brown, specializing in counseling older adults and couples. “Let yourself feel and express your grief. You can be happy about what’s to come and still feel sadness over what has been lost.”

The Reality of Downsizing

Many aging adults feel there’s a stigma associated with downsizing. “They think others will take it as a sign that they are no longer competent or able to manage their life as they have for decades,” explains Brown.

Brown emphasizes the importance of admitting to oneself the move is necessary. “Recognize there’s been a change in your life—mobility, cognitive, financial—and things are no longer as they have been,” he says. “Then you can see the move as a constructive and positive step to accommodate the new reality of your abilities.”


The Anxiety of Downsizing

Being afraid about ending a phase of life and moving into the unknown is normal. The most effective approach is to formulate a plan. Feeling a little more in control of the process helps ease some of the anxiety. It can also help relieve a lot of unneeded stress by seeking the help of experts who downsize for a living.

If the grief, shame, and anxiety of downsizing seem a little too overwhelming, there’s nothing wrong with seeking counseling from an expert like Jacob Brown in your area.


Here are some resources:

National Council on Aging

Eldercare Directory

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

Therapy for Aging and Grief

Department of Health and Human Services

Family Caregiver Alliance

Find out here what Medicare covers.