It’s autumn! I, for one, find real delight in the crispy leaves, the cooler evenings, and the comfort of a regular school schedule. Autumn always makes me feel awake.
Having said that, I also wonder if that pesky leak in my basement will reappear with the rain. And what about my middle schooler’s escalating homework troubles? There are also some family issues that are heating up; how should those be dealt with? And, oh my, what about the impending holidays?!
No transitions, even simple seasonal ones, come without upheaval.
Sometimes, this is just fine; life requires small adjustments pretty much all the time. But what about the big transitions? What about the ones that really throw us off?
In these situations, communication can go sideways, anxiety can increase, and we can find ourselves in new situations in which we feel uncomfortable, unprepared, or unhappy. It’s very normal for this to happen, and very understandable. And it can be very demoralizing!
Studies have shown that stress (especially prolonged stress) can diminish our functioning, both mentally and physically. This is not new information, but it’s worth pausing and thinking about. If our cognitive abilities are reduced and the body is running at a lessened capacity, we need to be careful about putting even higher demands on ourselves. Isn’t it interesting that the demands on ourselves go up while our ability to function might be going down?
We all have stress in our lives, so what are we supposed to do? How do we keep our cognitive functioning on board in these situations?
When you find yourself in a tough transition, it’s helpful to pause and ask yourself the following questions:
• Am I just gritting my teeth to get through this difficult time?
• Do I like the trajectory of these changes?
• Am I feeling like I’m being heard and my needs are being met? How am I treating myself when I’m stressed?
It’s hard enough to ask ourselves these questions; it’s even more difficult to know what to do with the answers we might find.
How am I treating myself when I’m stressed?! Lousy, thank you very much!
Yup, I hear you.