Good Change, Bad Change, It’s All the Same

Photo Credit: Joe Leap

Have you ever wondered why you felt so drained even though you’ve accomplished something amazing? Maybe you’re supposed to feel elated about a career move but then suddenly you’re exhausted just thinking about it. If you express those feelings you’ll be seen as unhappy and ungrateful. It’s okay, there is nothing wrong with you, your body is just responding to stress, it’s just good stress. However, your body responds to those changes, roughly, in the same way as negative change. We go through similar hormonal responses.

Change can be good, in moderation, at the right time in your life.

If you’ve never heard of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale Test, I recommend you take it. You should retake this test anytime you feel unexplainably stressed, you don’t know why you keep getting sick or have some unexplained health issues. Don’t forget to add things that you can recognize as stress that may not be listed or may not be as straight forward. For instance, if you’ve just graduated college make sure to add ‘end of college‘ and ‘outstanding personal achievement‘. If you’re moving back in with your parents add ‘moving‘ and ‘change in family obligations‘ as well. Thus graduating from college is incredibly stressful, even though it’s an entirely wonderful achievement.

All change is stress to your mind and body!

If you’d like to do some further research head on over to the CDC website to do an experiment on how you personally cope with stress: (https://www.cdc.gov/bam/teachers/documents/stress_body_mind.pdf).

Just know that all change is stress to your mind and body. Just got a promotion? Great, check the stress box. Just had a big disagreement with your in-laws? Sorry about that, but again, check the stress box.

So what do we do about about all this stress? Since it’s inevitable and life happens after all. Learn to recognize the things you can control and things you can’t. If you’ve just lost an important family member, now is not the time to take on optional work. MindTools states, “While this is clearly easier said than done, you can usually avoid moving house, for example, close to when you retire, or when one of your children goes off to college; you can learn conflict resolution skills to minimize conflict with other people; you can avoid taking on new obligations or engaging with new programs of study; and you can take things easy, and look after yourself.” 

Looking after yourself receives a post all on it’s own, but for now find one thing you do just for yourself (that doesn’t include internet surfing or television watching). Schedule time for this, by writing it on the calendar. Do this regularly and more often during noticeably high stress times. It’s okay not to do it all now. That’s the whole point of slowing down. There is a time in life for everything, but the time for everything is not right now.

Meditation also deserves a note here. I am in no way affiliated with 10% Happier but I’ve used their first seven guided meditations and I can happily recommend it.

I’m going to coin the term, Change Seeker, a person constantly in need of change to feel fulfilled.

Personal aside: the military has made me a Change Seeker. I look for change everywhere, I constantly rearrange my furniture, I’m always looking forward to the next place to move or new things to get involved in (or new degrees to get). But I can recognize that I’m, pretty much, chronically stressed (in both good and bad ways). I made a list of ongoing projects and I’m a little embarrassed to share it, so let’s just say it’s over 50 items long. I’m looking to slow my change seeking behaviors and hope to report to you a healthier update in the future.

 

 

Start with You

I find advice that begins with ‘start with yourself’ to be the best. I love Dave Ramsey and when my husband and I took Financial Peace University together I used to lay in the bath at night and watch his success story videos. Dave Ramsey has always recommended to ‘Pay Yourself First’. And it’s great advice. It’s worked for me and it’s worked for other people I know. Airplane stewards always direct you to place your oxygen mask on yourself before helping others around you, even including your children. It’s not just good advice it is life or death, even though in an emergency I imagine I’ll hold my breath to help my kid. But I know it’s not the right choice when I really think about it because who will help my kid when I’ve passed out from no oxygen!?! So basically pay yourself first, take care of yourself first because I bet no one else is going to do it for you.

My advice regarding minimalism is to focus on yourself first. There are many minimalist writers and bloggers out there and most of them recommend cleaning out that garage or basement first or even going for the easy trash in the living room method. I don’t recommend that. What you will get is trash removed from the living room and nothing else. I know this from experience and I’m sure a lot of people out there are just as overwhelmed as myself. So instead, pay yourself first!

Take some time and talk to a couple friends about ways they have simplified their lives. A great friend gives you energy. Find them, keep them, use them and support them in return. Don’t bring those people into your life that use, use, use and never give anything back, this person is NOT a friend! Your life will be so much better. You will have a support group, your own little cheerleaders leading you through life. Talk to your friends about what drives you crazy, what fills you with the most dread, what you miss doing the most and what you wish you could change, and what works for them. I bet you’ll learn a lot about your friends and how they keep a home, manage homework, pick-ups and drop-offs and so many other great things that could make your life easier that you never thought about. Plus, coffee and brioche with a friend is always a good thing.

Some great advice I’ve come across from books and my own friends and family are:

  • Drop perfectionism and the guilt it produces.
  • Get a relaxing hobby, like yoga. Or any other hobby you thoroughly enjoy just for you.
  • Learn to say “No” when you really don’t want to do something.
  • Treat negative people like the plague. They will only take your energy and give you none in return.
  • Find something to fill the shopping void. Do you shop when you are bored, stressed? Fill that gap with something you love…that isn’t shopping.

My favorite book on minimalism (“30 Days to a Simpler Life”) is quite outdated but has some great tips:

  1. Make forms for everything you do repeatedly (i.e. grocery shopping, chores, parties, volunteering). You can keep all these forms in a binder or in a family command center.
  2. Teach your kids to be responsible for their things. This one will save you more time than any other advice. Teach them young and save yourself time later.
  3. Make lists of all the things you need to do and create a management center on the fridge or open wall. Make sure your husband and children know these lists and are involved in helping you cross things off. Lists can include menus, shopping lists, activity lists.
  4. Pick one night a week to catch up on calls, emails, bills and forms. Sunday night is a good night, right before the next week starts. Forget about these tasks the rest of the week.
  5. Buy clothes that do not need dry cleaning, sheets that do no need ironing, an easy to manage hairstyle and other things you think will make your life easier. Life can be easier when we choose things that simplify our lives.
  6. Install a stacking washer and dryer in a closet near a teenagers room. You’ll never talk about wash again when it’s their own responsibility.
  7. My favorite advice from the book! “My major strategy for simplifying is to get as much exercise as possible, eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, look for the best in everyone, and have a regular and exciting sex life. The rest falls into place.”