Rolling with the Punches When Life Gets Weird

Those of you who tune in regularly to my articles might have noticed a change in my usual posting schedule.

Life’s been weird lately. It’s been good, for sure, but it’s also been a lot. I managed to orchestrate a confluence of major life stressors happening all at once, and it’s caused a shift in my routine. If I’m being honest, that shift is causing me more stress than the actual major stressors are.

I don’t like changes to my routine. I am structured, organized, punctual. It bothers me when things feel left undone, when I feel like I’m falling short on the demands I put on myself. The last few weeks have left me feeling behind the curve on literally everything, and I haven’t quite known what to do with myself.

Just to name a few things: my family and I moved to a new home which, as anyone who has moved knows, is a stressor of its own kind; my children just began their summer break which deprives me of the seven hours a day I usually count on to get my things done; I was on deadline for getting the final revisions to my book back to my editor, as my launch date is fast approaching; I was asked to audition to narrate the audiobook and still haven’t found time to make that happen; we’ve begun the PR and Marketing plans for the book which is exciting but a lot, and finally, I’ve been striving to maintain my regular social media presence and writing schedule.

These are the circumstances that can send me crashing into anxiety and overwhelm.

Lately, I’ve been working on rolling with the punches. As a perfection-seeking, highly motivated Capricorn who lives up to the name, I have a hard time attuning myself to my circumstances. When things come along that must shift my routine, I cling to the routine instead of making room for the new things that need my attention. I insist on maintaining the routine even though my life, in its present form, doesn’t have space for it.

I’m learning oh so slowly how to keep things in perspective—to be flexible and accommodating toward the undulations of my life.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve given myself permission to simply let things be. I’ve stepped away from my routine, as stressful as that’s felt. I’ve allowed myself to let things fall off my plate and to simply be okay with that. I have to be okay with that. What other choice is there? I’ve chosen to embrace the reality that life is going to bring new and sometimes overwhelming circumstances in my life, and I am allowed to make space for those things while they’re here.

After all, I decided to be self-employed for a reason. I wanted flexibility—the freedom from someone else’s deadlines and expectations. Why have I taken on all the stress of self-employment (i.e., not having a 401k, no insurance coverage, no reliable/stable income to rely on), if I’m not going to give myself the perks that are supposed to come along with it? Why am I treating my self-employed lifestyle like I have a boss looming over my head?

My boss is me. I deserve to be a good boss to myself.

Being that kind of boss has meant cooling my heels, so to speak. It’s been about letting myself be okay with things taking longer than they usually would, or not getting done at all. I’ve had to let go of a lot of anxiety and unnecessary pressure on myself. And you know what? I’m feeling so much better! The first week was a hard adjustment. It took some time to escape the pressure and demands I constantly put on myself, but I’m getting there.

As we approach moments in life that require us to stretch, let’s do our best to do just that. Stretch. Accommodate. Slow down. Make room.

Sometimes, life is asking us to take a step out of the familiar and let things simply unfold the way they need to.

Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.

Check out her blog called Compassionate Feminism on Psychology Today to join a feminist conversation centered in openness, empathy, and equity.

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