4 Self-Care Strategies for Transitions
Here are four self-care strategies that can help you not only manage your transition but also gain a sense of control while in it.
Going through a transition can be tough. Regardless of whether you’re in the midst of Letting Go of the Old Way, In-Between, or Accepting the New Way, life can often seem upside down. One day you may feel like you’re being tossed by ruthless waves, while the next day seems like smooth sailing. Plus, all these ups and downs can be physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining.
This is why we need extra special, tender, compassionate, supportive care of ourselves. And why we need to identify personal strategies for helping us take good self-care of ourselves while managing the transition.
Exploring these four self-care strategies on the pages of your journal is a great way to begin. Your journal is a safe place where you can write them down, refer to them, have a record of them when you forget (and we do forget.) Writing a challenge? Then perhaps creating a collage or use other art journaling practices might help. Regardless of whether you write or collage your self-care strategies, it’s worth your investment of time to discover and document them. Both now and later, they can literally offer life-support to you during a transition.
Four Transition Self-Care Strategies
1. Remember Who You Are.
Remember your strengths, remember what you value, and remember your skills including those that help you cope gracefully. Even recalling how you managed a past transition can become part of your strengths. Reflect on the best possible outcome of this transition for you. Remember your best (not your worse) coping skills.
- Journal and creative prompts: My current strengths, values, and skills are…. What can I learn from past transitions? What are my best coping skills? What best possible outcome do I want from this transition?
2. Create A Daily Rhythm.
Being in a transition can feel chaotic. Old routines vanish. You may feel like you’re stuck in molasses or that the once solid ground beneath your feet has evaporated. Discovering a structure for your day or your week provides an important framework, helping you become grounded. Setting boundaries can also help you limit contact with people or events or situations that feel unmanageable at this time. Some simple examples of creating this Daily Rhythm self-care practice include establishing a daily routine to take a shower, get dressed and put on make-up every morning. (Really important if you’re retired or in between work). An example of setting a boundary could be in your relationships with others. You may need to decline a date for coffee because conversation with a particular individual emotionally drains you. The key is that the structure and boundaries don’t need to be complicated or permanent. Instead, you are simply seeking something that provides ease and a rhythm for your day.
- Journaling prompts can include: What is a good morning structure for me to follow for now? What is a good afternoon or evening structure for me to follow? What might I need to give up during this time? What structures give me a sense of control? How does journaling or adding in a creative activity daily or weekly sound right now? What boundaries do I need to set in order to limit overextending my emotional self?
3. Discover Your Supports.
During a transition, knowing who’s on your side is an essential strategy. For instance, you may have helpful mentors or colleagues that can give feedback about your job change. In addition, it’s also a good idea to have an emotional support team that includes family members and friends, people whom you trust to ask for what you need at the moment. A team of medical professionals can support you in various ways with a health diagnosis. The most important thing is to reach out regularly for this support. You do not have to go it alone. And it’s also just as important to identify those non-people supports that nourish your soul, like being in nature, exercising, making art, being with animals, meditating, praying, listening to or making music, attending a place of worship, doing yoga, and so much more.
- Journaling prompts can include making lists of 1) Helpful professional mentors and colleagues; 2) Family and friends you trust and can turn to; 3) Medical or therapeutic professionals you may enlist for support; and 4) Soul-Nourishing Supports, things you can do for yourself that help nourish you. What gives me a sense of calm, peace, balance, a sense of ease?
4. Create Simple Action Steps.
Setting a few simple, short-term action steps for yourself gives you encouragement and hope along with a sense of being in control. It’s like goal-setting. This can be creating a weekly calendar with specific coffee dates and/or events you will attend. Think creatively here. What’s something you’ve been yearning to do? Visit to a museum or botanical garden or attending a concert? Or, is this the time to turn to regular writing and other creative outlets? What’s the local library or adult education center offering that interests you? Could you attend a weekly gentle yoga or tai chi class twice a week, set a writing date for 20 minutes of daily or weekly writing? Once identified, place these action steps in a place where you will see them. Better yet, add them to your calendar.
- Journaling prompts can include: What action steps can I take to manage my transitions? What would I like to do in the next week? Writing down a short-term plan with a few action steps; adding them to your calendar increases their likelihood of happening.
In short, radical self-care during a transition is a non-negotiable.
When we take the time to remember our strengths, values, our support network, the things in life that soothe all while reframing our days for doable action steps and structure, we can begin to regain a sense of control in our own transition.
What strategies help you manage your transition? Feel free to comment below.
Next week, I begin a new blog series to shed further light of each of the above four strategies. And if you found this post helpful, I’d be so grateful if you would share it on your favorite social media stream. Thank you!
(Grateful to Leia Francisco for her life-work on transitions and her Tools for Management chapter found in her book Writing Through Transitions: A Guide for Transforming Life Changes from which the above are adapted.)