“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” – Lao Tzu
I learned again this week that there is one inevitability in life, and that is that change is imminent and something that we must deal with. For some reason, many of us are not comfortable with the dramatic change that life now brings in our current time. We used to be more centralized and our family would stay together in the same town, working together. Sometimes, I believe that is why we see more drama today with change. But like it or hate it, we must live with change that is sometimes expected and sometimes not.
My final youngest child left the house for college this week. Our house is very quiet and now, after almost 23 years of giving of most of my time to my children, I find myself wondering what I can give to myself now.
Research by the National Institute of Health show that anxiety and depression are quite cyclical around major change points in our life. We see rises in the number during those important change years, around 18-21, in our mid-life years of 40-50, and around our retirement years 65-70. It makes great sense as these are times of great change, dealing with the beginning of our career life, the mid-point of life when we sometimes feel our life didn’t head in the direction we wanted, and then at retirement, when we again are wondering what we will do with the rest of the time given.
In many ways, I had to prepare for this current time of a now quiet and quite alone time of life, when I’m back to trying to figure out what it is I like to do and want to do that doesn’t involve my kids or someone else. I think it’s very important to plan for change and that is what I have learned to be able to move forward and not get stuck with anxiety and depression again. Here are a few things I have learned that you may also find comfort in:
- Expect that change is constant and never shocking. Prepare for it by already falling in love with being with yourself. That’s right, you can and should be able to be with yourself and have a good time doing it. Think about what YOU like. Maybe it’s hiking, shopping, watching movies, reading, getting a good meal. Whatever it is, list all of these things and make it your bucket list to do them when you have these golden moments.
- Join groups that are similar to you. There are so many ways to find others with the same interest as you. Maybe it’s through meetup or Facebook or any of the great tools that bring people together. Yes, you need to get over your fear of meeting new people, but remember, they are there for the same reason you are and want to meet you.
- Stay busy! Make plans well ahead and always have something to look forward to. The fastest way to get in a rut is to not have any plans and find all your free time as time to do nothing. Set the alarm for early rising. Greet the day and get out there with gusto. Don’t ever wonder what is next. Be ahead of your schedule and be flexible as well.
These are just a few techniques I use. It is when our minds are not occupied that things, many times go south. That is because we did not prepare ourselves for change. Is it easy? Certainly not and it requires that you are planning ahead, but not predicting the future. We had a saying when my sons did Scouts and that was Semper Gumby (always be flexible). Plans are another thing that can change and you need to be ready for that too.
If you can work through these times and find a way to stay present, but also plan for the fact that change will happen, you will find yourself avoiding the pain of change. That is the real goal to start with and one I am in the midst of now.
Remember to please vote for my next book about bullying violence, ‘Crossing The Line’ to be published by going to the SOOP Publishing website. Thank you for helping me see my next book published. ~ Alan Eisenberg