I heard that some of the most stressful situations are the ones where life changes in an instant. Things like having kids, getting married, moving, a tragedy, a pandemic – the kinds of things where life is a certain way one day and then completely different the next.
I know these kinds of moments well. In the last five years, I graduated from college, got married, moved six times, lived in five states, spent 14 months of that five years living in hotels, navigated being a Navy wife and all the deployments and underways that come with that, started two businesses through it all… and (mostly) managed to maintain my sanity.
I laugh at it all now. Oh, the ride it was.
On one of our last moves, we literally drove into town, sat on Josh’s truck bed at 5 pm while we looked for a place to stay the night. Then got up the next morning to look at apartments and picked one to move into all in a 48 hour period.
Another time, Josh walked into an apartment complex, looked at two units, picked one, drove back to where I was, we packed our house up and moved halfway across the country in a three day period.
Stuff happens fast for us which sometimes barely gives us time to process it all.
People tell me they’d go crazy in those situations… my go-to response?… a slight chuckle and “I don’t really feel like that’s a good option for me”.
Don’t get me wrong, some days felt really scary, some felt really lonely, and some ended in tears. Despite all that though, I have learned to navigate overnight transition quite well.
And while none of them have ever been a national epidemic or severe tragedy, I have learned to roll with whatever life throws at me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the tools that have kept me well through it all. The ones that when it felt like life around me was overwhelming and chaotic, kept me grounded.
I’m sharing the tools that have worked for me with you today and I hope you find them helpful:
7 Tips for When Life Changes in an Instant
1) Stick to routines
When everything else around me changes, I cling to my routines. Specifically, my morning routine before work starts.
I created a morning routine that I can do anywhere and under almost any circumstance to help me prepare for a day ahead. It’s added consistency and stability to my life. Plus, it helps me take care of myself so I’m prepared to handle whatever life throws at me that day.
When my life changes in an instant, I take comfort in knowing that my routines don’t have to.
2) Check-in on my mindset
Studies show that 70% of our thoughts are negative. The voices we listen to (friends, family, social media) have the ability to completely redirect your life.
So, I do my best to be aware of when I’m spiraling to the negative. I’ll interrupt my negative thoughts with the 5-4-3-2-1 tool that Mel Robbins talks about in her book The 5 Second Rule and then look for the positive.
I’ve found that when I look for the positive, I find it. When I look for the negative, I find that too. It’s all in what you’re allowing your mind to dwell on and ultimately the mindset you’re choosing to create.
It’s been life-changing for me. I’ve always kept a journal about my life but in recent years, I started to journal about my goals using the Start Today Journal and to check in with my own soul.
Sometimes I just need to get everything out but I don’t necessarily want to share things with a person. It’s a safe and helpful way to process and sort through all that’s going on.
I ask a lot of “what” questions. Things like “What am I feeling?” or “What can I do to feel better?” and “What part of this do I have control over?”
“How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life.” – Gary Keller, author of The One Thing
4) Having grace for myself
I’m a plan ahead and hit the ground running kind of girl. Last-minute changes and life happening has often made that really difficult. Then I find I’m hard on myself for not having it more together.
Here’s what I’ve learned: anytime there’s been a big change in my life, it always takes two to two and a half weeks to adjust. Usually accompanied by tears and the feeling of chaos. Then one day I wake up and I’ve just got it.
I adjust to the new situation, I find a groove that works, things settle.
The key though, is that on the rough days, I ask myself what isn’t working and what could work instead. Then I pivot for the next day.
Basically, instead of letting chaos ensue all around, I take notice of it and am intentional in my actions to pivot.
At times it’s meant getting up earlier to start on my morning routine, finding a different space to work, or changing who I’m letting speak into my life.
5) I choose personal growth
Difficulties are always an opportunity for growth. I always assume whatever is happening has a lesson wrapped up in it that I can use for the future.
Yeah, usually I don’t choose the situation, but the choice of how I will react to it is mine to make.
Let me say it again…
How you react to a situation is your choice.
I look at difficulties as the opportunity to rise to the occasion and improve. No matter what it is, there may be a lesson in it that I will need in the future.
That’s a really hard choice to make sometimes. In fact, when my life changes in an instant, there have been times I’d rather climb into bed and not get out in hopes that the situation would just pass on its own.
Rarely does it work out that way though. So, I figure out what I need to grow and I find resources to help me.
6) Find joy in the little things
Joyful moments are always there if we will just be on the lookout. It’s usually the little things we breeze past.
The other day I took my three-year-old niece on a walk and lavished in the joy she found in all the flowers (they were weeds) that scattered the common areas of the neighborhood.
She’d pick a flower and carry it with her until she found a new patch of flowers. She’d gift that patch of flowers the one she had previously found and then pick a new one.
On and on she did this getting joy out of each new thing she discovered. At one point she even found joy in the brown color of the curb.
It was an adorable sweet reminder that there is joy in the smallest things if we will look for it and accept it.
7) Find an online community
This one has been a saving grace for me. I haven’t always been in a place to find support in person.
It’s hard to connect with people when you’re in a different city every weekend. I ended up discovering amazing online communities that were supportive and helpful.
It’s in isolation that we feel alone.
But in a community, we feel supported.
Online communities have completely changed my life. I’ve learned things, made friends, and felt connected in ways I never would have otherwise.
It’s probably safe to say that we’re very rarely prepared for when life changes in an instant. I used to try and stay prepared for anything but it was more stressful than just going with the flow and pivoting as the changes came.
After years of learning to take each day and major life change in stride, these are the tools I’ve found to be the most helpful.
I hope you’ll use them, adjust as necessary, and find your own calm in the chaos.
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