Currently, I am in a very hectic stage of life and finding stability can be difficult. I’m trying to balance working as a private practice counselor and finish up my dissertation for my doctoral program. Both are wonderful phases to be in, but difficult to do together. I’ve come to find out that in order to get through this trying season of life, I need to find some stability to hang on to. It kind of feels like I’m searching for a tree branch hanging over a rushing river that I can cling to until help arrives. Here are a few ideas I’ve been working on to help me:
Although it may seem intimidating or shameful, it is much more beneficial when I’m honest about where I’m at or how I’m feeling. Sometimes I have to admit to my boss that I will miss a deadline because school was overwhelming. Sometimes I have to ask my professors for an extension because clients were difficult that week. There are even times that I have to ask my partner for some extra grace because I’ve neglected to appreciate them. I’ve come to find that the more honest I am about my current situation, the more respect and understanding I have received from those around me.
(I’ll tell you a secret: they know you’re overwhelmed before you tell them, so eventually you’ve got to stop lying. Pretending to have it all together all the time doesn’t fool anyone but yourself.)
Find out who is important to you and schedule time for them.
Maybe it seems inauthentic to have to schedule in time for those that mean the most to you, but at this stage in life, it’s what needs to be done. Again, honesty breeds understanding. Those who also care about you will not mind having to schedule lunch or date night two weeks out. Carving out specific time for specific people shows that you care and are still actively engaged in their life despite being semi-overwhelmed. Remember that this busy season is strictly that – a season. Your friends and loved ones were here before work and school, they’re here now, and it’s your job to keep them around to celebrate after.
Use your planner.
Whether this idea is comfortable to you now or not, it’s time to make a conscious effort to become more familiar with your planner. Create a schedule. Write down client appointments and deadlines for papers. And then, have fun! Schedule in a spa day or a brunch with your friends. Planners do not have to be solely for keeping business things in line. Use it to your advantage to create fun or uplifting check points during this chaotic time. It’s easier to push through difficult situations or semesters when you can see some light at the end of the tunnel.
Stay focused on your own values.
Not everyone is a fan of taking a break or engaging in self-care. Some people feel the need to stay up studying all night or to work for six more hours after already attending six hours of class beforehand. If that’s not you, don’t try to make it become you. If you cherish eight hours of sleep each night, make sure you get that. If you can focus better by going to school Tuesday and Thursday and working Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – set that boundary and stick to it! There is no need to give in to the busy culture around you if you don’t feel the need to do so. At the end of the day, you answer to yourself. It’s important to stay true to who you are, despite what noisy schedules or people try to tell you.
Find stability in your breath.
Life will not always be a balancing act of work and school. Sometimes you have to hustle before you get to relax. On the stressful days, take a second to do some deep breathing and regain your focus. Reset your eyes on the prize and start chugging forward again. It’s ok to pause. It’s also ok to pause multiple times in a day. Stay mindful of your stress levels and adjust yourself accordingly.
Not every day is easy, but since I’ve started actively seeking stability in life, it hasn’t been as overwhelming. I can see an end to my dissertation and I’m excited about my next chapter of strictly working. If we’re being honest here, although I’ll only be working by the end of the year, I can already foresee having to continue to practice these tips as I learn to balance all the different aspects of my job. Life is about finding stability in the chaos, whatever situation you may be in. While it sounds impossible, I assure it isn’t. If you’re struggling with this concept, feel free to give us a call at 832-421-8714. We at Amy Wine Counseling Center would love to help you build a steady foundation to handle life.