August is often a time of transition for people-be it students going back to school, parents adjusting to not having their kids at home all summer, or simply the transition from warmer weather into the cooler fall months. While not everyone experiences the same amount of transition, this is a time that most people find some need for adjustment. Now for some, they manage adjustment with ease, seeing it as just another part of the flow of life. However, if you find change difficult, you are not alone.
Change is inevitable. From the moment we are born, we begin to experience change. We go through growth spurts, new experiences, starting school, starting college, starting a new job-I can go on. My point is, we will experience change. And in many ways, our bodies and brains are capable of handling this change. Unfortunately, sometimes, when a lot of change happens all at once, we become overwhelmed. That is where we need to take a more proactive approach.
Think of change like gas in a tank, we are able to spend so much fuel before we run out of gas. Each day, as we take care of ourselves with rest, eating, exercising, time with people, time alone, etc., we re-fill our tank. If our lives become unbalanced with too many changes and not enough self-care, our tanks hit empty.
There is an old Zen saying, “ You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” Now, I don’t expect everyone to go out and begin meditating every day, but the point of this saying is that when life is overwhelming, we need to spend even more time taking care of ourselves.
I have heard so many excuses on why people don’t have time to take care of themselves, but the hard truth is that taking care of ourselves is the best thing we can do to help those around us as well. If anyone has ever been on an airplane, they will probably remember how the in-flight emergency demonstration instructs those traveling with children to put the oxygen mask on themselves before assisting the child. You can’t help your child if you aren’t breathing. Likewise, you can’t be the best version of yourself if you aren’t taking time to recharge.
So how can we take care of ourselves in the midst of chaos? I’m including an image below that I found on Pinterest. You can type in “self-care skills,” “coping skills,” or “ways to relax” into Google or Pinterest and you will probably find many other options. I just like this one because it has pictures. I encourage you to try some of these though. Pick some you’d never try and give them a shot. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken with who find coloring a relaxing activity. Others just want to sit outside. Do what fits you. What have you got to lose? A couple hours of your day at most? I think the payoff is well worth the risk.