Honestly, I think one of the things I was least prepared for when I became an adult (next to parenting) was how to cope with everyday life stresses. I mean, when you are a teenager, you have your first real stress in your life and it feels monumental! School stress! Activity stress! Relationship stress! Maybe your first job stress! During that time you get this FALSE sense that you can handle anything, because you somehow handle all these hard things in your life and overcome them BEFORE you are an "adult". So, you figure you will be able to handle ANYTHING once you are done with school, have a job and are taking care of yourself. You can do this! ONLY, there is something different that happens...and that is, you truly feel for the first time in your life, YOU are TOTALLY the one that is responsible for YOUR LIFE and everything in it! This is something you can't prepare yourself for (or your children when they are facing it) because it's nothing you can describe or teach. You will know that burden when you have it, however, when the waves of things start to happen in your life, you can be taught how to deal with them, so here are a few tips:
One Day at a Time, One Crisis at a Time - I am the type of person that when one thing would go wrong, I see the worst in everything else and before I can bat an eye, my whole world is caving in. At least I used to be that way all the time. Now, I have gotten through enough things that I can honestly say that just because one thing in your life goes terribly wrong, that doesn't mean that EVERYTHING will go terribly wrong. Do I still rant when something happens? Yes. But when the dust settles I learn to deal. I probably have shared this before (I know to my kids I have said this a million times) but a good friend told me one time when I was going through a horrible thing in my life, that "tomorrow is another day". It's another day for things to get better. You only have to get through today. Face each day new and each battle one at a time. You may have several things going on at once in your life, but, if you focus on the most important thing first, then you can tackle the other things as they come along.
Learning Balance - If you are focusing on one thing at a time, you are less likely to spiral to the point of EVERYTHING is wrong. It may help you be able to see solutions to your problems better and be able to emotionally get things under control even if your circumstances haven't changed yet. A loss of a job when you have a family to feed and bills to pay can truly make a person freeze with fear, but, as you take steps toward the solution and see that your family is still ok one day at a time, you will get through it. I have seen people that literally have NOTHING and they are some of the happiest people I have met because they don't equate their material circumstances with their happiness. They look for what is GOOD and don't focus on what it not good. There is a time to freak out a little and a time to put that aside and focus on what you CAN do. Keep that balance, and any situation you face, you can face with strength.
Prep Ahead for Everything - One thing that has helped me control my anxiety about some things in my life is to be prepared. If I am going somewhere new, learn some things about it. If I am going to be doing something I have never done, study on how to do it right. If I know I have a big bill coming, do my best to save up for it so I am prepared. If I prep ahead for what all I can think of that might happen (without living in a bomb shelter) then when the unexpected things happen, it doesn't throw everything too out of whack because I am a bit prepared with everything else. If you have ever had a death of a loved one, then you know one of the things you really can't prepare for is when someone dies. You may have an idea if they have had an illness or something, but, no one dies on a schedule. It throws off not only physical time things in your life, but, death affects us all differently at different times in our lives and our emotional well being might be changed during that time. So, while we can't prepare for what all that entails, if we have our everyday stuff pretty much prepared for, we can deal better with the huge unexpected things that come. If I can't control certain situations, I control the things I can. It just helps me deal.
Routines Really Work - Along with being prepared and controlling what you can, having a routine in your life really can help you feel more secure and able to deal with things. There is something very safe in doing some of the same things in a routine fashion--maybe your routine is a routine of a whacky schedule, but, find the pattern in that, that works for you. I have a son that not only works nights, but, flip flops what days he works each week. He has a certain routine that works for him with that schedule. Find what works for you and your family. But, just remember, some routines can't and won't last forever. Change WILL come, but, you WILL find your "new normal" when that happens. It might take a bit, but you will find it. Sometimes, people have been raised in chaos and they feel "normal" when they have chaos around them, however, even those people find some sort of routine that works for them--or those they love help them see that some routine does work.
Stress will happen. It's a fact. Some things will be little and some things will be huge. You may see someone going through something and say to yourself "I could never handle that"! But, I have found that when you do have to face super challenging things, somehow you find the grace that works for you. It may take a bit, but somehow you learn to manage. Keep that in mind and DON'T GIVE UP!
Until Next Time!
Jen Lush, Associate Broker and Life Stress Survivor Photo Credit: JESHOOTS.com