Life Throws Curveballs
Adult life can get pretty mundane. You’re going to work, sometimes school, going out with friends, have a significant other in your life and maybe a child.
Curveball. Plot twist. Major life change.
That life change can be anything– a natural disaster, loss of a job, death of a family member, a sudden move, anything major you didn’t plan for.
These changes can bring on emotions, and those emotions can sometimes not be the ones you expect. What can you do to keep yourself together and move forward from this event?
The time in between is called transition, and it’s not always pretty. There are tears involved- many people don’t like crying and this is okay. Some stress eat, which is not the healthiest way to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Some turn to drugs, alcohol or other self-destructive things and that can turn into a larger issue.
Moving Along The Path
The first step in the process is to assess your immediate needs. Are you safe? Are your basic needs being met? If so, that is a good thing. Make sure those are being met before doing anything else. If you don’t have food, a safe place to live, clothes, etc., then not much else matters. Take care of the basics. After the basics, then it is time to look a bit beyond the basics if you are ready. Don’t rush yourself. It takes time to move forward after life-changing events.
Self-care is always important. This means brushing your teeth, taking a bath, again, the basics. Try to make that doctor’s appointment you have been putting off. It does feel refreshing to restore some sort of “normalcy” in your life. Getting out feels nice. You may have to drag yourself out at first, but it will come back to you in time. Self-care can also include doing small things for yourself that you enjoy, even if it’s taking a short walk, watching a funny movie, or getting a nice meal for yourself.
Staying in touch with those you care about is also a vital component. People may call or text in the days after an event, but tend to drift off after. This happens a lot. Those who stay in constant contact want to make sure you are doing well and want to give you extra support. Accept that support. It may seem a bit weird at first, especially if you are not used to this kind of support, or if you don’t think you want it, but it can be a large sense of comfort. If these people are helping you with errands or housework, it can also free up some time for you to deal with other impending things.
The Big Question: What’s next?
Many people ask themselves this after a significant event in their lives. It may take a while to find that answer, and it’s not always an easy answer to find. There may be mistakes made in the process. Some have to find themselves again before finding out what comes next.
Take the time to think- don’t make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Those decisions may have not-so-great results. The only way these might not is if it has to do with your immediate physical or emotional health. (For example, I quit a job I loved immediately following a close friend’s death, but it was definitely a matter of my mental health at the time. I have no regrets.) Take time, in general, to figure out what the future holds for you.
During the time you are going into the new phase of your life, it’s normal to be anxious. There will be days that you have no idea what is going to happen next. You will have no idea who you can trust or whether you can pay your bills. You may want to go back to your life the way it was before, but it probably isn’t possible. If you give it enough time and work through the anxiety, you may realize that your life is better than before.
Work through anxiety?
Jog. Meditate. Try yoga. Journal. Hike, or try long walks. If these things aren’t for you, try crafts. Adult coloring can be very soothing- so can pottery, gardening and many other activities. If you need to, speak to a mental health professional or try online counseling. Therapy can be an amazing tool to get through life’s changes. It’s not as “weird” as people may think it is. Mine had a couch and lots of Kleenex in her office. She was also very laid back. A therapist can also help you, as mine did, outline a plan to take the next steps you need to in your life.
When you are trying to restructure your life, things can get very confusing. A list can help you figure this out.
When making this list, write down the steps you have taken so far to move forward (ex: rewriting resume, put in applications, etc.) and then the steps you need to take (ex: call back about an interview, buy new shoes for interviews, etc.) and check off as needed so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in not knowing what to do. Keep this on your phone or planner to keep track of your progress.
Find Your New Happy
Part of moving on in life is finding happiness again. This can be incredibly hard, depending on the circumstances. It can be very hard to be happy again after losing a loved one, but it is possible. Support from others, mainly friends and family, helps a lot. Healing is different for everyone. Don’t force yourself to be happy or to move forward from anything, because this is not healthy.
Small things can add up to happiness. Outings with others can help make this happen. Daily talks with others, funny memes, and other small things can really make someone’s day. Each day that is behind you is another day that you have moved past the event that changed you. There will be a day that you can look back at the event, transition and your life as it stands and be proud of yourself for making it through.