Self-care is incredibly important, but it’s especially important through major life transitions. Personally, I discovered this the hard way after I graduated college, got a new job, and moved to a new apartment with new roommates at around the same time. I put self-care to the wayside when I needed it most, and consequently my anxiety spiked.
Thankfully, the lovely Kayti from DesigningCourage.com knows plenty about self-care during major life transitions! She was kind enough to let me interview her to learn about her story and important self-care tips!
Let’s start with an introduction! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, I’m Kayti! I am an MSW Candidate and mental wellness advocate from Northern California. I write over at DesigningCourage.com, a mental wellness blog that exists to inspire the next generation of strong, fun, mission-driven women become their happiest, healthiest, most-awesome selves.
How did you get involved with the mental wellness community?
I first became involved with the mental wellness community after my freshman year of college when I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. As you can imagine, I wasn’t feeling my best. And I wanted to be! It was kind of perfect that I was in college at the time because I had access to the college counseling center (which was included in tuition). I absolutely loved therapy, and started to recognize patterns in my life that could either help or hinder my mental wellness and overall quality of life.
That experience inspired me to change my major to psychology and learn everything I possibly could about what was going on in this brain of mine. I became passionate about anti-stigma work and found some really awesome community with others who lived with mental illness and/or simply valued mental wellness.
What are some important life transitions or changes you’ve experienced in the last five years?
In the last five years it’s felt like my life has been moving from one major transition to another! As a young person, I know this is not unique (we have A LOT going on!). For me, personally, transitions in the last 5 years have included moving 4 times, living with 12 different roommates, changing my major, graduating from college, changing cities, finding a new home church, working my first “grown-up job,” getting engaged and married, adopting an adorable Morkie puppy, starting grad school, and finding an awesome tribe of friends (which is much more challenging after college!).
Why is self-care important during these transitional phases?
Of course, self-care is always important. But I’d say self-care is particularly important during these transitional phases because, in all the chaos that a transition can bring, self-care is often put on the back burner.
Did you know stress is actually caused by change? Good change, bad change, all of it. It’s our brain and body’s very natural reaction to transition. So in seasons of transition, it is very likely that we’ll be feeling stressed. This is the exact time that self-care is often overlooked, and when we need it the most.
What are some ways someone can practice self-care to help them through big life changes?
Self-care can be as simple as eating when you’re hungry, going to bed early if you’re tired, or reaching out to a friend when you’re feeling lonely. It can also be something a bit more involved, like planning your next vacation! The options are endless.
As a starting point, it can be helpful to know yourself and how you personally recharge. Do you feel more refreshed after going to a party? Or spending a whole day in bed with a good book? Maybe it depends on your mood. I’d recommend sitting down and brainstorming (whether in a journal or the “notes” app on your phone) your own personal self-care preferences. What makes you feel better when you are stressed? Tired? Angry? Sad? Having an awesome day? (Hint: Be sure to include some self-care options that take 5 minutes or less for those very busy days!)
What was the hardest transition you’ve experienced in the last five years?
My hardest transition in the last 5 years was definitely the transition from college to “adult world.” But not for the reasons you might expect. I had an awesome job, a place to live, a good handle on my new bills, and much more time to myself now that I was done with the midterms and research papers of undergrad!
“Adulting” was awesome. Except for one thing: I was no longer down the hall from 17 of my closest friends! Even though I was closer to my family, in some ways it felt as though I was starting from scratch in the friend department. (Can you relate?! Check out this awesome post by Sara!)
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from this transition?
I’d say the biggest lesson I learned (or re-learned) is that transition can be good, even if it’s painful. It was painful to leave a community that I had become so close with. I missed my tribe terribly, and sometimes even wished that I hadn’t moved at all! But I also knew deep down that this was my best next step, and that I would eventually adjust even if it was hard at first.
What would you say is the most important tip for practicing self-care?
Make it a priority. Don’t let self-care become a fluffy, maybe-someday ideal that you never get around to. Whether that’s putting it in your planner, setting an alarm on your phone, or incorporating mini self-care practices throughout your day, do whatever it takes to make it happen. You deserve it!
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