When things get overwhelming, you might even need to break it down even further, one step at a time, one moment, one task...
Or maybe you're at a place where you can take that step back and look further ahead.
Either way, I hope you remember that this moment, right now, is all you can control. So what are you going to do with it?
For these last two years, August has been a month of transition for me. Last year, I left the stability of a full-time position with benefits to begin again as a graduate student in social work. I was excited, but I was scared as hell!
I feel like it's not talked about enough, the complexities of what it means to be human and how you can feel multiple emotions at once. I was in a state of excitement for what was to come, yet grieving the comforts of my old life, even if it no longer served me.
There's comfort in the familiar, and I don't blame you for wanting to stick to it. I do it too, we all do, because change can be scary. It's different than what you knew, what got you through before.
It takes courage to decide to travel down a new path to get somewhere you've been wanting to go. It's in these small decisions that you make every day that add up to where you want to be, and I want to celebrate that.
It's not one major decision, and it's not going to be easy. I didn't just wake up one day and decide I want to start a business or go back to school. I'm also not going to lie and say it was a smooth ride, because I've had many frustrations and setbacks along the way. It wasn't until I decided to embrace the transition that I was in, and trust in myself to bring me to a beautiful outcome afterwards.
But just because you decide to take a courageous tiptoe, step or leap, doesn't mean you can't bring some comforts with you through the journey.
Here is what's helped me through periods of transitions
First, Let it All Out in a Brain Dump
Anxiety, self-doubt, imposter syndrome... They all came for an extended stay in my already overthinking brain. Like, how was I going to pay for school, for health insurance, for living? Who am I to be someone's therapist??
Grab your favorite tools to jot this all down, pen and paper, keyboard, whichever is the most convenient for you.
And then dump whatever is taking space in your mind
- Your worries...
- Things to do...
- Groceries to buy...
and I mean everything.
It makes it a bit more real, and gives you a good visual of what might've been circling in your mind, waiting for you to acknowledge it.
From there, you can develop a game plan. Start with the easy tasks and eventually work your way through it, you might even revisit it in your next brain dump.
Keep Some Consistency
I've had my moments where I'd try millions of new feats at the same time, and let me tell you, it's a surefire way to burnout faster. After my first semester of mental exhaustion and physical inactivity, I tried to overcompensate by trying out kickboxing, rock climbing, and yoga, jam packing them all into one week. The novelty of it all felt great, but I was now physically exhausted as well. I decided to stick with my yoga practice and my daily walks around the park or parking lot, wherever I can.
You don't need to go full on courage mode and keep diving into new things all the time. Try to keep some things consistent on your journey, those that bring you comfort.
Remember the Context
As a student and a new mental health intern, I thought I was supposed to know it all, have all the answers (I was humbled so many times). But no, I sought education because I didn't know, because I wanted to learn.
I reminded myself that I was in this space of learning and making mistakes. That I would do my best with the information I knew. How could I take this as a learning opportunity and improve?
Are you starting something new? You're kinda supposed to make mistakes, you literally have never done this before, its all brand new to you!
Try to go easy on yourself for not knowing, and be like a sponge and soak up all this new glorious information you've been wanting.
Allow yourself the time and space to feel your feelings.
I admit, I tend to push my emotions aside when I feel like it isn't safe to have them, or if someone else needed me. It would usually end up in me bursting into tears when I least expected it, because I simply could not hold in any more emotions.
You are allowed to have feelings and emotions, and they're completely valid. It's a huge disservice to constantly put other people's feelings above yours. You would not be able to show up for them, because you haven't yet showed up for yourself. Give yourself that same time and space you give so easily to others.
And no, it doesn't have to be just one feeling at a time. We are complex beings, capable of feeling multiple emotions at the same time. Yes, it can be overwhelming at times, but it can also be beautiful if you let it.
Get Curious About What You Need
This isn't always as easy as it sounds, because sometimes you literally don't know what you need until you hit a wall of pent up emotion. When something doesn't feel right, you can explore what you might need.
- Do you need time alone or time with friends/family?
- What is your financial situation like? What resources are available to you?
- Have you gone outside?
- Do you need to move your body?
- Are you getting enough sleep and rest?
- Have you eaten or drank water?
- Do you need a safe space to talk, with a friend, therapist, etc?
Equip Yourself With the Tools You Need
Always check out your free resources!
Whether it's from your workplace, school, the government, find out what kind of assistance you qualify for, and go for it.
Financial aid, cheaper health insurance, free counseling sessions, food pantries, libraries.
This August brings another transition for me as I enter my second and final year of grad school. I officially left my 9-5 job in which I worked twice a month. It provided some sort of consistency for me along with the support from my coworkers, and getting paid hourly was actually pretty comforting, considering most of the work I do here for Yours Truly is more like an investment into future goals or sales.
Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. What's different this time is that I've gained a bit more experience, and deepened the trust I have within myself to figure out what I need and how to get it.
Good luck on your journey.