Quiz time, y’all. What’s the most constant thing in life? You got it: change. So when it happens (not if…), we may as well acknowledge it. The one thing change often brings with it, like an unwanted guest – is stress. Do you know of anyone who ever purchased a new home, landed a great job, or had a baby, and as delighted as they felt, were not apprehensive in some way? Let me count the ways.
Not all change is bad. You finally graduated. You got the long-awaited promotion. You’re getting married. Woot! So why are you already carb-loading and ordering extra cheese on your stuffed crust cheese slice? The only “crunches” you are doing are Cap’n Crunch and Nestlé Crunch? Uh, oh. I suppose you realize that your whole world is shifting and transforming.
Sometimes you just need to anchor yourself and realize that not everything is unsettled. You still take your coffee in the morning with creamer and a slice of avocado toast. You go to the gym, or you call your bathroom “Jim.” That way, it sounds so much better when you say you went to the “gym” first thing this morning. Heh. By the way, does refusing to go to the gym count as resistance training? But seriously, you have some routines that you do not plan to change. Remind yourself of that.
Sometimes you think you are taking off, but your emotional baggage is too heavy to carry onboard. Please do not be too shy or intimidated to ask for support. It is not weakness; rather, it is a sign that you know yourself well enough to realize when you need some. Vent, and then vent some more. When you have exhausted yourself and let all your feelings out, please try to think of ways to make your situation better, Perhaps your family, loved ones, and trusted friends can brainstorm with you.
Remember to surround yourself with a positive person. After all, one text, one song, one mistake, one lie, one truth, and one person can change your mood in one second. And do not tell me you’re trying to be more positive because today you are positive that everyone’s a halfwit. No, no. If you do have negative thoughts, please make sure not to let them follow you around all day. You cannot litter negativity everywhere and then wonder why life feels so trashy. And you know the drill: Just when you think you discovered the meaning of life, they change it.
Don’t try to win an unwinnable war. We must accept that, in this life, there are simple things that are beyond our control. There are events over which we have no power, and people who may never change their ways – not even for you. Are you still trying to move the unmovable? Do not allow your mind to cut corners by assuming that the worst will always occur. Think about all the ebbs and flows and adaptations you’ve made throughout your life. Remember those Sunday mornings when the hardest decision was what cereal to eat and which cartoons to watch? But you made it through.
Nothing lasts forever, my friends. Whatever is happening at this time is temporary. Do whatever it takes to strengthen your hope and faith. Talk to G-d. Talk to the universe. Commune with nature. Imagine yourself in the water. You are not grabbing it for dear life or trying to hold on tight. If you did, you may drown. No, you are completely relaxed and floating like a cloud.
Let’s be honest, sweet friends. Whether we look forward to it, or simply dread it: Change is coming. Take it slow. It’s like baking that gooey chocolate cake. There are many steps and we must wait till it is completely baked before digging in. You know how your friends keep posting intense political rants, and you’re like: “Look. I made chocolate cake.” Ha.
Well, truly there is no On and Off switch for stress. Dealing with it is more like a process. Do not try to resist what is already happening. My instant sanity saver: Breathe – nice and deeply; and by all means, take your sweet time.
Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens. She works with individuals, couples, and families. Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends. She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at Safehavenhealing@gmail.com or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.