I’ve been living in boxes for four weeks now. It’s honestly been painful at times. I get antsy when things aren’t organized and when I can’t move around my place freely. I’m very reactive to my environment and can literally feel how chaos around me becomes chaos within me.
I also started a new job around the same time I moved apartments. In addition, the apartment we moved into still needed a kitchen as well as other more or less vital things such as access to wifi and shower doors (you wouldn’t believe how much water they prevent from flooding your bathroom!)
And it’s funny because I write and think a lot about stress reduction but recently found myself really stressed out. The other day I went on a run with my better half and literally started hyperventilating when we talked about all the things that are going on. While I have moved a number of times, across countries and continents, and while I have experience starting new jobs, I found myself overwhelmed by the changes going in. I was confronted with the uncomfortable feelings that accompany change–and I was destabilized. Not knowing exactly what the future holds as well as the act of picking up my roots (again), and maybe stirring up some hidden things along the way, made me feel like I was temporarily losing control. While I pride myself on being adaptable to transitions, I was reminded that every time I’m in one, it requires work and endurance. And patience.
1. One thing that has helped me was putting things into perspective. For example, I know that I won’t be living in boxes forever, I know that one day the contractors will be done with their work, and I know that I can soon come home to a place that doesn’t have a washer/dryer in the middle of the living room. I think perspective is also realizing that I have a roof over my head and a bed to sleep in. When I catch myself thinking that things are “just horrible,” which, yes, I do sometimes, I remind myself that whatever I’m going through right now is not permanent. Things come in waves, and it’s important to keep that in mind. It’s the act of taking a step back and for a minute detaching yourself from your seemingly never ending stressful roller coaster that helps you gain this perspective–and then also thinking about the end goal, which is having a better nest, a more fulfilling job, an improved quality of life.
2. The other thing I learned is that sometimes when things become overwhelming, it’s okay to just cut yourself some slack. Instead of pushing through until I’m totally out of fuel, I sometimes have to say no and take a break. I love biting off more than I can chew at times, and I deeply believe that that can lead to success in the long term, but it can also be your biggest enemy at times. For example, we had planned to do a weekend trip to DC and had to cancel it. Along with our half marathon. The disappointment was massive–but only at first because then we suddenly had an entire weekend when we were able to host contractors to finish our kitchen and finally finish unpacking our boxes. Sometimes doing less is more because the decreased pressure also decreases the negative emotions and brings back some stability.
3. The third thing that’s essential is to ask for advice. I have always felt that advice is like a free gift. You don’t have to take it if you don’t want it but it’s literally free. The important thing is to find the right advice givers or mentors–people you trust, look up to, and respect for their accomplishments. My dad’s cousin is one of these people–she’s an accomplished woman, both in her career (she runs her own business) as well as her family life (she’s managing a busy schedule with two young kids). Honestly, talking to her instantly helps me because she’s so much wiser than I am. Hearing her perspective on things often helps me to untangle my mental knots. The act of sharing thoughts around a life change makes the change less dramatic. And most of all, hearing how someone else successfully dealt with change makes it so much easier because suddenly you can see the end of the tunnel.
So if you feel like you’re gonna have a meltdown, just take a break, simplify your schedule, and get some perspective. Change can be painful but it’s often a road to more happiness down the line. Keeping long-term goals in mind and seeing the entire picture definitely helps. Remember: all transitions come to an end; otherwise they wouldn’t be called transitions.
How do stay sane when you’re surrounded by chaos and change?
Also by Isabelle: 3 Things You Must Do Every Morning For A Successful, Happy Day
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