Self-Care During Times of Change

I’ve been experiencing a lot of changes in my life recently! After spending nearly a decade of my life working for the same nonprofit organization, taking on roles with increasing responsibility and visibility, I have just moved into a new position at a new agency. One thing is certain, this role will challenge me in ways that I cannot fully grasp today. I am now the leader. An entire group of employees, stakeholders, and participants are looking to me to set the agenda and move the organization forward. It is exciting, but it is also a lot of pressure (mainly self-imposed). To manage the opportunities and stresses that are ahead of me, I need to take care of myself.

Beyond stretching my professional horizons, my family life is changing in exciting ways as well. My daughter has just entered first grade – she now has homework, best friends, extracurricular activities and a desire to “fit in.” She is experiencing a whole new world of self-exploration and peer influence. As parents, my husband and I want to do all we can to encourage, support and guide her development…but this is new territory for us, too. We often give each other a special look that says, I don’t think any parenting book talked about this…

Change is exhilarating, anxiety producing and tiring. When I go through big transformations in my life, my typical response has been to push harder, move faster and work more intensely. This hasn’t always served me well, and in fact, has often led to early burnout. This time around, because in both instances of change there is so much at stake, I want to slow down, enjoy the process, and focusing on nurturing my spirit so I can handle all of the twists and turns that are yet to come. Many of the ways that I choose to live (vegan, outdoors enthusiast, entertainer…) already nurture my being, but here are some new strategies I am using to manage the changes in my life – I thought I’d share them with all of our Entertaining Family readers:

I am going to bed an hour earlier

I’m the kind of person who likes to stay up into the wee hours of the morning writing, surfing the internet, reading…it can leave me exhausted by mid-week. To have enough energy to get me through my days, I’ve started going to bed an hour earlier than usual. There has been so much research documenting the benefits of sleep…I figure there is no harm in finding out if all of this science is right.

I am waking up a half hour earlier

I am dragging myself out of bed earlier than usual to head out for an invigorating morning walk. Sometimes when I am going through changes or stresses, the first thing I put on hold is physical activity. Not this time! To power through my day, I’m starting with exercise. Not only do my walks get my heart rate up, I find that they are incredibly meditative and allow me to put the day into perspective.

I am keeping a journal

There is nothing like a new job to get my mind racing with ideas and reflections. To guarantee they aren’t forgotten, I’m keeping a journal to record all of my thoughts. It has also allowed me to track all of the advances my daughter is making as she continues to stretch her mind and spirit in great new ways. Finally, journaling allows time for honest self-reflection which is necessary to navigating change.

I am saving my wine and margaritas for the weekends

What? That’s right. After a long day of learning and processing new things, it can be relaxing to sit down with an adult beverage. However, for me, alcohol tends to zap my energy…I get a little too relaxed. So for now, water is my drink of choice during the week. It keeps me energized for homework sessions, interesting discussions with my husband, and work that I may need to finish before bed.

I am carving out more alone time with my partner

The changes that we’re going through in our home tend to take a lot of time, energy and planning. To stay grounded and keep things in perspective, I’m spending a lot of time with my husband – he is my sounding board, my adviser and my greatest source of support. Whether it is a date night, an evening gab session or a quick lunch during the week, we’re committed to managing these changes together.

Finally, I’m just trying to be kind to myself. I’m taking the advice that I often give my daughter: you don’t have to be perfect, you just need to try your hardest. There will be some things that fall by wayside during this period, and that’s okay. I’m learning. I’m growing. I’m managing change the best ways I can.

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