How to Compassionately Navigate an Early Life Crisis

One of the most challenging aspects of coping with an early life crisis is that the steps you need to take to address your feelings of stress often seem impossible because of the debilitating nature of those feelings.

The scope of the decisions you have to make in the realms of academics, personal relationships, sports, and future career can feel as overwhelming as trying to move a mountain. The sheer scale of the task ahead can be immobilizing -where on earth do you start?

Self-Care

Well, you start at square one. Yourself.

Embarking upon a mental journey can be just as arduous and taxing as running a marathon, so it’s important to prepare yourself in much the same way.

First, ensure you’re getting enough sleep. To do this, you may need to remind yourself that getting a good night’s sleep actually improves your creativity, focus, and mood. It can seem like it’s wasting time to catch a few z’s, but it’s often the most productive way to spend a few hours.

Next, make sure you’re nourishing your body. Eat plenty of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and protein, limit caffeine, and drink plenty of water. Your mind and your body are intricately connected. Both need to be balanced in order to experience holistic wellbeing.

Finally, adopt the same attitude towards yourself that you would extend to a good friend or a child. Would you ever berate a good friend for their shortcomings? Belittle a child for every failure? Push a family member relentlessly without respite? Of course not!

Be just as gentle with yourself. Be patient.

Make a Plan

Next, spend some time identifying your major stressors. Is it your grades, your relationships, your job, or all three? Write down your worries and try to be as specific as possible.

Next, accept the situation. Like it or not, this is where you are right now. At this moment in your life, you’re struggling with your course load. You’re having a hard time accepting your physical limitations. You’re fighting with your partner. This is where you are. You won’t always be in this place, but you are here now.

It’s truly incredible how much mental energy we can spend resisting reality. I hate this. I’m not this person. This isn’t what I wanted. I can’t do this.

Instead, simply accept your current situation with compassion and without judgment. Here you are.

Take Action

Finally, identify the things on your list that you can change, even if it seems like it’d be really tough to do so. Perhaps you can raise your grades by seeking out extra help or finding a tutor. Maybe you can improve a failing relationship by having an open discussion, or by letting the relationship go. You might be able to answer all those wildly swirling questions about your future career by booking an appointment with a career counselor or speaking with a professor in the field.

Whatever your stressors, no matter how many stressors you have, begin by choosing just one thing from your list and identify just one concrete step you could take to address it. Then do that thing and stick with it until it’s done – until you’ve made the call or had the conversation or studied for the test or cleaned the room. Then check the item the list.

That’s the hardest part done! You’ve taken the first step, overcome that fear, the feeling of overwhelm, and the power of inertia.

Now all you have to do is keep going! Keep seeking help, taking steps, and making progress, no matter how small. You can overcome this!

Good luck 🙂

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