On Staying Grounded in Times of Transition
Written by Karen Littlefield // Edited by Chelsea DuDeVoire
Sometimes it feels like it’s all or nothing, doesn't it?
Two years ago, I found myself moving across the country, seeking a new job, and throwing myself head-first into nutrition school (for fun!) all within a span of two weeks. To say that this was chaotic might be an understatement, and in the midst of all these life changes, it was hard to stay grounded and present. I constantly found myself floundering, and overwhelmed by my decisions and obligations, but also learned some useful strategies to keep myself intact along the way.
Here are five tips I learned on staying grounded during times of major life transitions:
1. Take it one step at a time.
Within my first 7 days of landing in LA, I applied for a job, had an interview, got hired, looked for and found an apartment, moved, unpacked, and started my first day of teaching at a brand new school. If I had stopped to think about all of that responsibility at once, I would have paralyzed myself into doing absolutely nothing. By taking everything one step (and one day) at a time, I was able to really focus on each task that needed to be completed in order to move forward.
When deciding on which new city to move to, it was important for me to know someone living there, so I chose a city where we have several friends (and where the weather isn’t too shabby, either!) When looking for an apartment, I valued both location, access to public transportation, and an apartment that came with a refrigerator - because apparently that’s not the norm in LA! I know I can’t meet my entire list of demands all the time, so was important to distinguish the most important aspects to focus on when making my big move. Doing so kept me from pulling myself in 12 different directions on the same decision, and ultimately helped me maintain my sanity.
When I started my new teaching job, I easily could have decided to give up on going to culinary nutrition school that semester, but it was equally important to me. Even though it meant long days and extra homework, I kept at it - and it paid off. Throughout that hectic semester, I learned how strong I am, how committed I can be, and what’s important to my overall well-being.
3. Know there will be bad days.
Unfortunately, yes - amidst drastic life changes, you will inevitably find yourself missing what’s comfortable, wondering if you’re insane, and trying to decide what your next step will be along the way. You might feel frustrated and stressed at times, which is completely normal. Just remember, it’s on the tough days that we can be reflective and prioritize the things we need, what want want, and what we need to let go. Those times when we sit still and really listen can be some of the biggest breakthrough moments of all.
The good news is that there will also be amazing days when you pinch yourself, wondering how you could possibly deserve the reality you live in. Those are the days that always give me hope and spur me on toward my next adventure.
4. Stay connected.
For me, staying connected to family and friends, despite the distance, was crucial. Whether it was a quick call, text, or email, it was incredibly important for me to maintain connections with the people in my life.
I know other people who completely shut friends and and family out when they are going through major changes or feel in over their heads with work, which can lead to even more unnecessary stress. Cultivating the community around you (both near and far) will help your sense of belonging, and remind you that you have support whenever you need it.
5. Take care of yourself.
This is important for both sanity and productivity. Even during my busiest days, I forced myself stop for a few minutes to do something totally zen. Some days it was a five minute meditation, other days it was an hour-long yoga class. For me, cooking is also meditative, so luckily I also found some relaxation in my homework assignments.
Whether you go for a walk, phone a friend, make a cup of tea and curl up on the couch or take a bubble bath, self-care is a necessary component to our overall well-being. Taking a few minutes to recharge will help to calm your frazzled mind and body, allowing you to feel more in control and more productive when you return to the task at hand.
Onward and upward, babes. You’ve got this.
Karen is originally from Maine and currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a teacher and a Culinary Nutrition Expert who has a passion for educating kids (and adults!) about healthy eating habits. She loves yoga, travel, hiking, and experimenting in the kitchen. She's always planning her next vacation, usually over a matcha latte. Find her on Instagram at @karenscolorfulkitchen or at www.karenscolorfulkitchen.com.