Transitions // 5 ways to handle the stress of change

The word of the month is transitions.

photo 1-14For the past few weeks my life feels like one upheaval after the next. I’ve quit and accepted jobs, Simeon has quit and accepted jobs, we are packing up our apartment, we’re looking for a new place to call home, preparing to move (twice!), preparing for the next phase of our lives.  Each item alone is stressful but taken together the pressure at times can be overwhelming. I’ve noticed that out of habit I’ve found ways to release that stress but not always in a healthy or productive manner. Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’ve been stressing out because I’ve been stuffing it down or letting my feelings leak out.

Transitioning is not something we can get away from. Our lives are defined by stages of growth and development and the hazy liminal spaces between. Transitions are what define our aliveness. And yet, why are we so bad at handling them?

I’ve been thinking over my handling of these changes these past few weeks and I’ve come up with the list that is best getting me through. Maybe it will help you too.

1. Acknowledge your feelings // There is something to be said for a simple validation of one’s state of mind. I’m upset. It may be irrational to your logical mind, but acknowledging how you feel can go a long way to reduce the time it takes to process your emotions.

2. Talk with a trusted friend // One of my favorite parts of working early mornings at the bakery was the time I got to spend with my friend and co-worker. With just the two of us working side by side for hours we had plenty of time to explore our feelings. I made it a point to share the hard stuff that is easily ignored amid the daily bustle of life because I knew she would be receptive to my feelings and help me digest my situation. You certainly don’t need hours upon hours with a friend to do the same. Write a letter, call someone up on the phone. I do suggest putting aside some good amount of time though, as tough feelings can often require patience and fortitude and aren’t easily sorted through in a quick chat or text message.

3. Do something nice for yourself // It could be as simple as taking a walk at dusk and enjoying the setting sun or maybe as elaborate as a fine meal out. Whatever suits your mood or your style, take time to treat yourself and do it with full intentionality too. This isn’t just “giving in” or indulging for the sake of ignoring the issue at hand. This is pure adoration for yourself. I like to buy myself new books. After my purchase I scurry home and read by the window or snuggled in bed perfectly satisfied and feeling like a kid with an ice cream cone. Ok, sometimes I get an ice cream too. 😉

4. Don’t hide from your partner // When you’re stressing out and worrying about the details it can be easy to overlook the person who most needs your time and attention–your partner. Especially if you’re living with your beloved it is necessary to reflect on how the stress is playing out in your relationship. Are you expecting the other person to handle your slack for you? Do you need to have a conversation about expectations? Do you need to ask for help or support? Knowing the answers to these questions, or being open to asking them together will ease tensions between you and keep your communications clear.

5. Breathe // All too often we unknowingly hold our breath during the day and take only short inhalations when we need air. Stop right now and take FIVE deep inhales and full exhales. I’ll wait… If you can remember to do this once each day I promise you will start to feel relief immediately. Our bodies need breath, our minds need air, our souls need inspire-ation. Breathe. And breathe deeply. And notice your stressors subside.

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Most of all, trust that life is unfolding in it’s perfect mystery. You don’t always need to see the next step to move forward. This won’t be the first time you meet face to face with uncertainty. But it’s certain to appear again. So get good with it. And perhaps you will find that exhilaration, too, can come with change.