Tips for moving home when you have a chronic illness

Moving home can be stressful at the best of times, but factor in chronic illness and it can add even more. I collated a list of things that have helped me the last couple of times we moved, and as we prepare to do so again. I’m writing from the perspective of someone with M.E., fibromyalgia and also long-haul covid/post viral fatigue caused by covid.

Please bear in mind some of the tips will depend on your health and capabilities, whether you have people you can call on to help out, and your budget. I’ve written this post with chronic illness in mind but it can apply to others too. The tips won’t apply to everyone. Some things may be restricted or not possible due to the pandemic measures currently in place in your area/country.

  • Get rid of as much as you can before you move – If you have the time let go of as much stuff as you can that you don’t want anymore. Donate, sell, recycle or dispose of it. That way there’s less to have to move and find room for in the new place. If you’re going into storage it might mean you don’t have to pay out for as big a unit.
  • Start packing in advance – if you know you need to ration your energy, or you can only do so much at a time, start packing well before the move date. It makes things less stressful, and if you have days when you can’t do anything you should still be able to rest and make the deadline. Start with items you won’t need for the next few weeks and work your way to the essentials, which should be packed last.
  • Ask for help with packing – call on family or friends. If you can afford it maybe consider paying the removal men to pack for you. It helps to lessen your load and leave you with more time and energy.
  • Pack items by category – whether it’s by type or room, packing by category makes things easier when you’re in your new home.
  • Create priority boxes – these have not only your essentials but the things you’ll want out in the first few days (like a kettle, favourite ornaments, books or pictures). This way you create a feeling of ‘home’ even while things are still upside down. If you’re putting things in storage make your priority boxes things you want with you during that time period, and also special/sentimental/high value items.
  • Keep important documents, medical equipment, tablets and toiletries handy – keep them accessible so you know exactly where they are. It’s one less thing to have to worry about. Keep them with you on the day(s) of moving.
  • Create an overnight bag – include medications, pyjamas, fresh underwear, clothes and toiletries for the first few days. Make sure you include any chargers or leads for phones/tablets/laptops, etc.
  • Put labels on boxes – this helps you to find what you need easily and relatively quickly. For safety reasons you could number the boxes and have a list of what’s in each that you keep with you. That way you know what boxes to prioritise unpacking, and you can check them off to make sure they’ve all been delivered.
  • If possible work out where you want furniture before you move in – this means it can be put into place straight away, and reduces the stress of having to make decisions on the day. It also means you won’t have to use valuable energy or risk hurting yourself moving stuff around later. It also helps to put sticky notes up in case you’re not around to be asked where you want something to go.
  • Get help – if you can afford removal services they can really help. Otherwise see if a friend or family member will help you move stuff over. Perhaps consider renting a van, or hiring a “(wo)man with a van” for the larger items.
  • Consider moving in phases – if your energy levels fluctuate or drop easily think about moving things over a bit at a time. Move in your essential items, then on another day move others. If the place needs cleaning before you move in take over cleaning supplies and get it done before the main move day.
  • Keep to a core team on the main moving day – it’s stressful enough without having others (however well-meaning) around to distract you. If you have family members or friends who aren’t really going to be helping out try to find a polite way of asking them not to be around. Children may need occupying and you might find it less stressful if someone else can take care of them while everything is being moved out and (if possible) into the new place.
  • Try to get phone line and internet set up in advance – if you can, try to get your phone line and internet set up before you move in, or at least in the days following. With the way so much is connected to the internet nowadays it can be both annoying and frustrating to not have easy access to them. Also check your mobile phone is topped up if you’re on pay as you go.
  • Check everything works – you don’t want to move in and find the bathroom light doesn’t work, the hot tap only dispenses cold, or the boiler is on the fritz. It’s best to know beforehand so you have time to sort it out. It’s less stress and worry when you move in.
  • Plan what you’ll be eating for the first couple of days – you don’t want to be wasting time and energy worrying about cooking and what you have to eat when you first move in. Think about it before and make sure you have what you need readily available. If you can afford it consider a takeaway or a ready meal, or prepare something in advance that can be reheated or put in the oven.
  • Make a list of all the people and accounts who need to have an updated address – you can tick them off as you go along. Remember to update your bank, your doctor, schools, and any official organisations. Remember to update card or bank details on accounts, and remember to update drivers licenses, memberships, direct debits and insurance.
  • Have a spot where you can go to rest, meditate, chill out, or just switch off for a bit – self-care is vital during the stressful time of moving home. Make sure you don’t burn out or overdo things, as much as you can help it. Even a few minutes away from it all can help.
  • Be aware of your limits and limitations – don’t try to do it all if you really can’t. Be honest with yourself. You can do more harm than good to your health and wellbeing if you push yourself too far. Ask for help if you need it. Rest when you can. Take time to breathe and centre. Remember to be a friend to your body.

Michelle Thereze, She Holds The Bowl, September 2020

Tips for cat lovers who don’t have a cat

Sometimes we just miss feline company. Whether it’s down to money, work hours, family, house or health restrictions, when you love cats but can’t or don’t have one it can feel a bit lonely sometimes. For some of us cats are a form of self-care, so how can you bring some feline goodness back into your life? Here are a few tips and ideas for you.

**Please bear in mind some of these might not be viable options right now with covid-19 restrictions, or for those who are still shielding (like myself).**

  • Visit a friend or family member who has a cat.
  • Scout the area for friendly local kitties to pet.
  • Visit a cat cafe.
  • Volunteer at a cat sanctuary.
  • Sponsor a cat through a charity or organisation that sends updates and kitty photos.
  • Train to work with cats/ animals.
  • Watch cat videos – YouTube is great for these.
  • Follow cat accounts on Instagram or Facebook to get your daily dose.
  • If you’re a musicals fan you can watch the Cats the musical DVD (the stage version, not the latest CGI-fest).
  • Buy a cat colouring book, or a photo book with lovely kitty pawtraits in.
  • Find a cute cuddly cat toy to act as a surrogate to cuddle up to or leave on the end of your bed.
  • If you want to be completely random – this is something I might actually consider… – buy a cat window sticker so out of the corner of your eye it looks like you have kitty company!
  • If you have beloved feline friends who have passed away try to create a little area of photos and mementos you can ‘visit’ to remember them. Creating a photo book to flip through is also a nice way to remember them.

© Michelle Thereze, She Holds The Bowl, 2020

Sunday Smiles – the cats from Jun’s Kitchen

Sunday Smiles is where I’m sharing video links to make you smile.

Today I’m introducing the cats from Jun’s Kitchen. Jun does cooking videos (amongst other things) on YouTube and one of the reasons I love his channel is that his cats often appear in his videos. He also has videos just of his cats, so I’m sharing some of my favourites. His cats are called Haku, Nagi and Poki.

Jun and co have lots of other videos and photos. You can find them on:


Use this time to… Experiment

For those of you in lockdown or having to self-isolate now could be a good time to try something different. Experiment. Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t had the time? Give it a go. Is there a new technique or material you’re curious about? Give it a go. Is there a craft you’ve been inspired by but haven’t tried yet? Give it a go. Is there something you’ve been wondering about incorporating into your business? Give it a go.

Some of us have an opportunity to do things differently for now. While there is so much stress and worry at the moment it can help to find something more positive to focus on. Trying new things, and maybe even finding a new hobby, can be beneficial for mental health and emotional wellbeing. Who knows, you may even discover a hidden talent or untapped potential. It may even help your business… or help you step into something new.

Give it go. Experiment.

©️ Michelle Thereze, She Holds The Bowl, April 2020

Sunday Smiles – Cole & Marmalade the cats

Sunday Smiles is where I’m sharing video links to make you smile.

Today I’m introducing Cole and Marmalade. They have two younger sisters, called Jugg and ZigZag, who sometimes appear in their videos. Their human is known as Cat Man Chris, and he works to rescue and rehome stray and abandoned cats.

They have lots of other videos and photos. You can find them on:

Instagram – Cole and Marmalade, Jugg and ZigZag

Cat Man Chris – Instagram, YouTube, Facebook

Taking the opportunity to reassess your business in uncertain times

For many the reality of having to social distance or self-quarantine is starting to hit home. Many are struggling, and income and sales are dropping. So what can you do? One thing you can do is use this time to reassess.

No matter what size your business, or whether you’re freelance or self-employed, I hope these questions can be of use. I’m not a business expert but I am a creator and have an Etsy shop. I also have chronic health conditions that mean I’m in the vulnerable category and I’m having to self-isolate. As a result I’ve had to temporarily close down, and I’m using the time to reassess. The following are some prompts you can also use:

  • Is there some other way you can offer your services?
  • Is there something you’ve been thinking of adding to your repertoire that you could start to work on if business is slowing down?
  • Are there any skills you have that you aren’t utilising? Can you work them in to help you out now?
  • Are there new projects you can begin so when things pick up again you have something new to offer?
  • Are there other revenue streams you can tap into with the skills and materials you have available?
  • Do you still enjoy what you do? Now could be the time to do some self-reflection and brainstorm ideas for what you’d like to move into.
  • Take the time to go over your stock or offerings – are there any pieces you could offer in a sale or tweak and update?
  • Is your online presence still in line with your business and work? Can you work on updating them, rebranding or adding extras?
  • Are there any other techniques, materials or offerings you’d like to give a go? Maybe now’s the time to try something new and experiment a bit.
  • Is your working environment the best it can be for productivity and creating? Maybe shift some things around, freshen up the space, and make sure things are well organised.
  • Are you up to date with all your paperwork, stock taking, correspondence, etc? Maybe start working on these a bit at a time.
  • If you cannot go out to post items can you allow buyers to reserve them, or produce digital vouchers to be redeemed later?
  • Can you branch out into other social media avenues and start to build up a wider customer base?
  • Are there self-care measures you can put in place and start practicing now that will help you when things pick up too?

I hope these are of some use.
My best wishes to all of you,

©️ Michelle Thereze, She Holds The Bowl, March 2020

Sunday Smiles – Timo the cat + his brothers Toby and Mika

Sunday Smiles is where I’m sharing video links to make you smile.

Today I’m introducing the late Timo the cat, who was rather a character, and his brothers. Sadly Timo passed away last year but his successors Toby and Mika continue their brother’s tradition of providing cuteness and entertainment.

They have lots of other videos and photos. You can find them on:

Thank you…

Thank you to all of the health workers, nurses, doctors, care workers and volunteers. Thank you to the emergency services. Thank you to all of the delivery drivers and truckers. Thank you to all of the postal workers. Thank you to all of the shop workers and shelf-stackers. Thank you to all of the depot workers and businesses working hard to fulfil orders. Thank you to all the food and produce suppliers. Thank you to all of the meals-on-wheels and takeaway services popping up and providing home delivery. Thank you to all of the people shopping for those who are vulnerable and self-isolating. Thank you to all of those helping out neighbours. Thank you to all of those in call-centres. Thank you to those setting up community support systems. Thank you to all of the content creators and people providing online education, entertainment and support. Thank you to all of those working behind the scenes, unseen. Thank you to those who are showing understanding and kindness. Thank you to those who are showing courage and love. Thank you to all of those who are trying to help.

Thank you!

©️ Michelle Thereze, She Holds The Bowl, March 2020