3 Ways to Lower Your PCS Stress Level

A woman sits with boxes during a PCS.

Every military move comes with its own unique challenges. But at least one puzzle seems to be universal: organizing your household goods to reduce packing and unpacking chaos. Depending on how large your household is and how many belongings you have, that can feel like an insurmountable problem.

Fortunately, a few steps or tools exist to make it all a little easier. CC Gallagher, an Army spouse and military life expert, joined PCS with Military.com recently for a conversation on how to lower the chaos level on military moves. Here are a few of the resources she recommended.

Keep furniture measurements. You might have heard advice to use an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet as an inventory list of your home. But Gallagher said she recently started a new practice of measuring all of her furniture and predetermining where -- or whether -- it should go in her next home, based on room dimensions.

Listen now: Lower Your PCS Stress With Some PCS Organization Hacks (with CC Gallagher)

"I will measure furniture and place that in my little sheet of notes. And then I'll buy painter's tape. So whenever we receive the household goods on the other side, I will literally just outline it, based on the measurement, so I know and can see if it will fit in that room," she said. "So many times, we have moved into smaller spaces, or the rooms aren't adequate enough for a piece of furniture. And you're like, 'Oh, at least I knew before they came in and they were moving our furniture 10 times.'"

Use a labeling system. Over her six military moves, Gallagher has learned clear labeling on boxes and rooms makes a huge difference for both packing and unloading. When she couldn't find exactly what she wanted on the market, she created her own, which she now sells as the Stressless PCS Kit. With color-coded stickers and door hangers, the kit helps you easily identify which boxes belong where, letting you easily play both inventory sheet checker and box traffic director during your unloading.

"All those moments where I was chasing my young kids who are not in day care yet or school, I felt confident that these movers, they knew they had the process, they had a game plan down," she said. "It's so efficient. I just hope that people use it or some sort of system that helps them."

Call a coach. While not just a tool for conducting or recovering from a PCS, Gallagher said her favorite way to lower her overall PCS stress level is to leverage a service offered by the Pentagon's Military OneSource program: health and wellness coaching. Available to a wide variety of beneficiaries, the coaching program connects users with a professional who can help them think through ideas or steps for taking care of life and family during stressful times, she said.

"It's just to make sure that I'm integrating self-care into this entire process leading up to a move, but then also starting that new process of self-care after we arrived somewhere, because you're still trying to discover where is the gym, can I exercise or how do I eat better after eating fast food for how many days," she said. "It's important to take care of you, too."

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