As most of you probably know from my Instagram ramblings, I just started my new job as a Hy-Vee dietitian in Sioux Falls, SD. While it has certainly been an exciting and welcomed transition for me, change does come along with some annoying stressors. It’s inevitable. Luckily I have developed some healthy stress-management tools for my toolbox in the last year-or-so. Unfortunately, I am still not immune to stress. Admittedly, I never will be. For short-term changes (like starting a new job, moving, etc), I wanted to share some of the strategies that have helped me transition smoothly in starting my new job and moving to a new city.
1.) Get Organized.
If you are like me, you are not naturally a calm, serene person who just “goes with the flow.” Oh heck no! My body likes to go into fight or flight mode when it has the choice. During times of change, I find myself being a compulsive list maker. Yes, you read that right. ha When I am overwhelmed, I worry that I am going to forget something when an excess of new things are coming my direction. In my notebook last week, I think I had around 20 random lists started in an attempt to try to control my situation. Did this help? Absolutely not! I found myself looking through my pages of chicken scratch only to feel more stressed with all of the work I had left to do and having no idea where to start.
So how did I help manage this problem? I got organized!
For someone like me, organization instantly helps me feel a sense of calm in the midst of chaos. Instead of looking too far ahead at all of the things on my to-do list(s), I started focusing on one day at a time and how I can execute my tasks within that timeframe. I use Google Calendar, but I like to write out my short term schedule with pen to paper. Before I go to bed, I think about what I want to accomplish the next day and then contrive my plan. This is especially important for me because Hy-Vee dietitians have greater autonomy than I am used to—which is wonderful!—but it also means I need the organization and drive to execute projects on my own. I consult with my lengthy to-do list and see what I can squeeze into each day. I also make a point to schedule in “me” time. For example, last night I planned for Barre3 class with a friend and time for a bath. What if I don’t accomplish everything I scheduled in? No problem! I start with those tasks when compiling my list for the next day.
This may seem like a tedious procedure for planning my schedule, but I have found that it has helped me focus more on the present moment. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with too much of the big picture, I struggle to focus on what is important right now. So far, this has been the best method for me. I did this a lot in college during busy seasons of life. It also feels good to cross all of these items off my list…even if it’s as simple as drinking a full glass of water right when I wake up (yup…I write that in too! ha)
2.) Prioritize Sleep
One of the worst things you can do while feeling overwhelmed is skimp on sleep. (Trust me, I know from years and years of experience!!) Sleep deprivation makes EVERYTHING seem more overwhelming. Just like I schedule in my morning glass of water, I also schedule my bedtime routine. This may sound silly to some of you, but this is honestly what it has taken to get me to go to bed at a decent time. If you’re a workaholic and also naturally a night owl, you can relate to this. If I simply tell myself “oh yeah, sleep is important” that really doesn’t do it for me. I have to actually make list items that I am able to cross off. Otherwise, 10pm rolls around and if I am still wide awake, I tell myself that I might as well not waste that energy. Now, I even set an alarm to remind myself that it’s time to start winding down. Even on those weeknights where I am deep into Stranger Things on Netflix, I drag myself away to start mellowing down for the night. (Except this weekend…Season 2 got soooo intense!)
Let me know in the comments below if you would like to hear more about my bedtime or morning routines. I’ve been thinking about going into more detail in separate posts.
3.) Reflect and Process
When you are stressed and dealing with change, time to reflect may sound like the LAST thing you want to do. I hear ya. But trust me, you don’t need to go on a crazy hike like Reese Witherspoon in Wild in order to reflect on life. In fact, it is something that you can easily incorporate into your routine.
For me, I tend to do my best reflecting while on a run or sitting down and writing. More recently, I have been reflecting on the changes in my life using the 5-Minute Journal app. I already talked about this app in my stress-management post, but I think it’s worth mentioning again. I don’t always have time in my day for a long run or to write an extensive journal entry. However, this app serves the same purpose. I intentionally set aside time for the morning and bedtime entries. This means that I am taking time twice each day to solely focus on what is happening in my life. And as the name indicates, it only takes about 5 minutes!
Aside from this app, I also have been checking in with myself throughout the day. This is a skill that I have acquired since starting to practice Intuitive Eating. In addition to asking myself if I am feeling hungry or full, I also check in with my stress levels. If I notice that I am feeling more overwhelmed than usual during my day, I pause and ask myself a couple of questions. You seem frazzled, why do you think that is? Then I try to get to the root of the problem and evaluate if what I am stressing about is a big deal. This heightened awareness of feelings—both physically and emotionally—has been especially helpful during this transition period of my life.
I hope some of these insights are helpful to you if you are going through a period of change. What are some of the things that help YOU? (Let me know in the comments below).