You run the same route every day, a flat track. You run the same distance in the same amount of time. You know the route which means you don’t have to pay much attention.
One day you arrive to find the shape of the track has changed and the terrain is rocky. Your focus is heightened as you respond to the changes in movement required to take each step. You run the same time, but you don’t run as far a distance. That night you are more fatigued and sore in new places.
Ok… not my best metaphor but thanks for humoring me and hopefully seeing the point I’m trying to make. I think it makes sense to most that when the track was different, the runner felt more fatigued, using new muscles as well as additional mental energy to react to the changes.
We can afford this metaphorical runner some understanding as to how they feel different having navigated the new terrain. But when I meet with people who are going through any kind of life transition, they are sometimes surprised that they feel tired, they feel grief, they feel distracted, they feel just…different…not all there.
Change doesn’t have to be sad or even particularly hard to require us to use new mental energy to respond, to flex some lesser used muscles, for us to feel “it”.
Let’s consider some examples of transition…
Even if you enjoy it, the first few months of a new job or position may leave you feeling tired at the end of the day, physically or mentally. You are navigating a new terrain every day, learning new steps.
Empty nesting. Even if your child is settled and in a good place outside of the home, the terrain of your household has changed with new routines, new priorities, new unknowns.
Maybe one day you’ve come to the realization that life hasn’t gone the way you imagined it would. A change in conceptual realities is still a change to get used to.
In January, many teams returned to the notable absence of employees who participated in the Voluntary Retirement Benefit Program. You may have found yourself reaching to call someone only to remember that they are no longer there. You may have walked by an empty office, noticing the quiet and absence of a comrade. You may have found yourself thinking about your own retirement goals – representing a transition on the horizon.
Transitions are a time to utilize coping skills you haven’t had to use in a while or ever before. A chance to stop and evaluate or reinforce your priorities and values. To take time to validate and explore what you feel. A time to flex the muscle of reaching out for support.
If you are in a time of transition, be kind to yourself. What you are feeling is valid. Give yourself credit for the new terrain you are navigating. See the opportunities and challenges and celebrate small wins. Apply one of my favorite terms and “engage ambiguity”. Allow yourself to grieve any of the losses, even if they happen for positive reasons. Be generous in allowing yourself the need for rest and rejuventation. Care for your wellbeing.
If you’d like resources for additional support through a time of transition, please contact the Work/Life Center through email or at 919-531-5433.