How To Deal With Major Life Transitions

How To Deal Major Life Transitions, how to deal with stress, major life change, how to deal with anxiety, how to cope with stress, quarter life crisis, millennial blog

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group®  and The J.M. Smucker Company, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #DunkinDonutsPublix

-Everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it- david foster wallace

I don't do well with change, especially during major life transitions, like moving and getting a puppy. I've learned to cope with my anxiety over the years, but even when change is good, I can feel my shoulders tighten while heels dig into the ground… and lately, that's still held true.

E and I moved less than a month ago as I write this. The entire process was both smooth and disastrous (we didn't have TV or internet for over a week – and seeing how I run a blog and work as a digital business coach, well you can imagine my stress levels). To add to the super fun time, the only pieces of furniture we owned at the time was my desk and an entertainment center. I've basically just been inhaling Dunkin’ Donuts® Coffee from Publix to keep my eyes open as I sift through all the furniture on-line and try to get work done. It's been my silky, smooth happy place.

While I've been trying to stay awake and find some semblance of normal, E knows how much having a dog around helps with my anxiety, so on top of the move, he began hunting feverishly for a dog. I was both excited and really against getting a dog. I love dogs. I really do. So much so that in 3rd grade my mom gave me money for books at the book fair, but I came home with puppy posters (and proceeded to be grounded for a week). I'd always wanted a dog, and finally when I went to college I got one. His name was Charlie and he was perfect. He was sweet, playful, calm, never barked, and got along great with people and other animals.

During that same time, the chemo and experimental trials for my dad's terminal cancer diagnosis weren't working anymore. He did really well with Charlie when I would come home, so my mom decided to get him a dog, which he named after his Harley Davidson. Charlie and Harley got along great initially. Fast forward a few years, and my dad passed away. I had recently moved back in with my parents and while the dogs were still getting along well, there was some question as to “whose house” it was. About a month after my dad passed away I had to leave my parents house for about a year and couldn't take Charlie with me.

I think the change of the two alpha's (my dad and I) leaving, combined with the new living arrangement, led something to snap in the pups. They started to viciously attack each other like nothing I'd ever seen before. I moved back home with my mom and even so, the two dogs were trying to fight to the death. We tried everything, a trainer, crating, but it was too unsafe to keep them both. To this day, thinking back on that time breaks my heart. I still wonder if I did something wrong and how I could've been a better dog mama. Ultimately, my mom and I couldn't bare the thought of giving away Harley, it was our last connection to my dad. We found Charlie a great home with one of my mom's co-workers, who he truly loves to this day.

Needless to say, I spent many hours in therapy over Charlie. I wanted a dog so badly my entire life, and I felt like I failed. So when E wanted a dog, while I really wanted one too, the self blame was coming out and I've been terrified I would mess another one up.

Slowly but surely, we kept going from shelter to shelter to find one. However, we were looking at some pretty “in-demand” pups and since we don't have a regular vet they didn't want to give us one.

*FUN FACT: Most shelters will prioritize “in-demand” dogs based on several factors, but two of the leading factors are:
1) whether or not you've owned that breed in the past and
2) whether or not you have a vet or have had a dog in the last 2 years

As it became clearer and clearer that rescuing from a shelter probably wasn't in the cards for us. E took to craigslist where he found two Snorkies (mini schnauzer / Yorkie mix). He showed me the picture and I was like *eh*.  I still wasn't totally sure how prepared I felt to be a dog mommy again. He reached out anyway and the woman sent us more pictures and I began to fall in love.

We went and met her and the pup and as soon as he came out of the car he started reaching out of her arms for me. I held him and he was licking me like a maniac. I knew he was our dog right away. He was everything I had been looking for (I love dogs that don't shed and look like old men when they are young).

That night E and I just stared at him and went crazy as we both fell head over heels. The dogs name was Brooklyn, which we loved, but it felt more like a girls name, so we decided to rename him to Tucker.

He's 14 weeks and 5 lbs. He'll probably get to around 10-15 pounds. He is unbelievably sweet, shy around strangers and other dogs, and basically sleeps or plays alllll day (but mostly sleeps). He loves Beyonce, but hates the Wu-Tang Clan. His favorite toy is this little guy:

His previous owners had crate and pee pad trained him. We are trying to keep things as similar to his previous life as possible, so we decided to put his crate in a bathroom with pee pads so it could replicate his previous overnight situation… but boy did he cry! I woke up in the middle of the night because he was crying. Slowly but surely he cried less and less, but I still haven't been sleeping the same. *Is this what it's like to have kids?* I just worry about him overnight, alone. Needless to say, I've been needing all the Dunkin’ Donuts coffee I can get my hands on from Publix!

It's been about a week now and he is doing great overnight and with his crate during the day when I have to leave for 30-60 minutes. He's also going entirely outside minus overnight and 1 accident a day (this boy goes to the bathroom literally 10 times a day!). Even though he is literally perfect, it's still change.

With all of this craziness happening, while it's all great things, I am needing to stay on top of taking care of myself.

6 Tips For Taking Care Of Yourself During Transitional Times:

1. Indulge.

Whether it's taking a bath or indulging in the delicious variety of flavors Dunkin Donuts coffee has to offer, take the time to give yourself a treat. I know I would barely be functioning or able to keep my head on straight if it wasn't for daily dose of caffeine during “me” time. In fact, with the pup and weird work hours, I need all the coffee! Some of you guys have asked about this in the past too, so here's how we make our iced coffee:

Basically it's this thing called a Mizudashi. You steep the coffee ground over night in the beaker. In the morning it's ready to go, just add ice!

Add water and let it steep over night!

I do drink hot coffee too, especially with the pup coming along, I need some extra cups to help me power through the afternoon! Dunkin’ Donuts offers a ton of variety in flavors and forms, (like K-Cups, grounds, or whole beans), but lately I've been all about their bakery collection! It really tastes like such a treat.

Find the things that keep you feeling grounded and anchored, and indulge in it! Whether it's a delicious cold brew by yourself, coffee with friends, a walk on the beach, or getting your nails done. Whatever that thing is, make sure to get your dose of it daily or weekly!

2. Let go of guilt.

If you didn't just skip down to my tips, and read the above story, you'll know I had a lot of guilt around my last puppy. But guilt can come up during transitional times in ALL sorts of ways. If you're going to college, you could feel guilty to be leaving friends or family behind and actually enjoy yourself in the process; if you're starting a new job, you may feel guilty about not negotiating a higher salary or leaving old co-workers behind in your last job. Even when the transitional periods are good, many of us still experience some pangs of guilt for the life we are leaving behind, and that's okay. Acknowledge it, breathe it in, and exhale it out. Acceptance of the new stages in life becomes a lot easier when you've acknowledge and let go of the guilt. It makes the waves of emotions that come up a lot easier to understand and work through.

3. Create a Schedule.

Transitional times can often feel 100% out of our control. Even though it's probably the most difficult time to do this, try to create a regular schedule. Giving your brain and body an anchor of consistency to hold onto can really ease additional stress. Try to write down running to-do lists in the notes section of your phone so you aren't racking your brain trying to remember that thing you forgot. Move the items from your to-do list onto your calendar in scheduled increments. Give yourself permission to reschedule things if the unexpected comes up.

4. Be present.

Acceptance is a lot easier when we can be present and enjoy the beauty of each moment. During transitional times, there is so much new information and new experiences to take in at any given moment. Try to keep your cell phone away, and soak it all in. Ask questions, do research, but enjoy the new connections with others, the world, and yourself. Transitions are an opportunity to learn and grow on the path we are meant to be on.

5. Ask for help.

For many of us, transitional times mean a loss of equilibrium. Let go of some of your regular responsibilities, like cooking or cleaning, and ask for help. Or if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed by a new task at hand, enlist others for support and wisdom. Again, transitional times are about learning and growing, so get support from others to reduce stress and truly flourish.

6. Visit familiar or comforting places.

Especially if you've gone through a recent move or change in physical environments, try to visit old comforts or familiar places to add a sense of peace and security.

Growing up, I LOVED going to Publix. Legit, it was my favorite place (and it's not just because I had a major crush on the bag boy, but yeah, I totally did). There is something about having a rough day, and going to Publix, and knowing the friendly staff always crackin' jokes or that I can get the tastiest chocolate chip cookie from the bakery that just feels so good. No matter which Publix I go into, it's the same familiar and safe feeling. There was actually a time in my life, where everything was changing and going upside down, but I would literally go to Publix every day as the constant in my routine.

*BONUS: Take advantage of $1.00 off any ONE (1) Dunkin’ Donuts varieties now through 5/6/17 at your local Publix, while supplies last!

If you take a step back, you will probably be surprised by the places that have grown to feel like an extension of you over the years, so take a moment and think about where do you get the warm and fuzzy feeling and make sure to spend some time there.

Lastly, remember, even when change is a blessing, it still takes a little extra elbow grease to make the transitional period smooth and wonderful.

How do you deal with transitional periods?

139 thoughts on “How To Deal With Major Life Transitions”

  1. ABsolutely love this post, Rachel! Congrats on your new addition, Tucker is such a cutie and I am so glad he makes you happy (albeit the loss of sleep)! My bf and I just adopted a dog a couple months ago and it has definitely been a transition in our house as well (we have an alpha male cat so you can only imagine, haha!). Coffee definitely helps to keep the energy up around those two 😛

  2. Omg what a SWEET BOY!!!! Tucker is soooo cute! Our transition with Shadow was a little rough at first just because he required so much care, but I think you just have to take it day by day!!!

    1. Haha thank you!!! Yeah, it’s not just the pup – its more the move with no furniture haha but it’s all coming together day by day just like you said 🙂

  3. I love this. I love posts that make you feel good when you read them! And your boy is the cutest!!

  4. I absolutely loved this post. I deal with a lot of anxiety and I tend to deal with a lot of worry and guilt over things that are out of my control. It definitely makes such a difference to focus on the things that make you feel at peace and both coffee and my pets are that for me.

    La Belle Sirene

  5. Victoria Stacey

    HE IS SO CUTE! Also, your tips on life transitioning are KEY! Thanks 😀

  6. Rachel — I’m so blown away by this post. Thank you for sharing about your first dog and that touch situation. I am so sorry about the loss of your father and really inspired by how you shared about the variety of transitions you’ve been though in this post, as well as how to deal with them.

    I’m currently in a big transition — I just moved halfway across the world to live with my boyfriend in the Netherlands. I miss my friends and family every day, and sometimes I “mess up” on something I try really hard on and it can be so hard to give myself grace, so I really appreciated your emphasis on asking for help and on making schedules. The regularity of some things in my life is really helpful when so much of it feels up in the air.

    Thank you for sharing. I really love this blog post and I think your blog is truly stand-out in quality and authenticity.

    1. Awe thank you so much for your kind words Sara! Legit, you have no idea how much I needed to hear that last sentence RN <3 – That's such a big adjustment! Out of curiosity, how did you and your boyfriend meet?

    2. My family is originally from the Netherlands and we moved to the States when I was a kid. I met Ken when, for my gap year, I spent a few months here in the Netherlands with my aunt and uncle. He’s my cousin’s best friend! We actually used to be in the same fourth grade class. (:

  7. Thank you for sharing your story and how you deal with anxiety! Major life transitions are huge anxiety factors, so it’s good to have a schedule (and lots of coffee!) on hand. I’m so excited because my town is getting a Publix soon!

  8. Thank you so much for being so open and honest in this post!! I loved it so much I subscribed to your email list!! Like you, I struggle with anxiety (although I have better control over it now – yay!) and transitions can be very overwhelming, stressful, and not fun. Even when I feel like I *should* be having fun with certain transitions (ie: house hunting), it’s still hard sometimes! It’s nice to read this post and feel like I’m not alone in these feelings!!

    Ps – Your pup is adorable! Yay for being a dog mom again 🙂 🙂 My pup had done wonders for my anxiety!!

    – Kaitlin

  9. I think you need to mention dunkin donuts coffee a few hundred more times. Other than that, you had a couple helpful points. But when stress is an unwanted thing? When you can’t even relax at home and your cortisol levels are maxed out and you can’t have speed (aka caffeine) to help you out?

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