The More Things Change .... the Harder time I have adjusting to it.
November 24, 2012 7:19 PM   Subscribe

You, like me, have difficulty adjusting to major life changes, particularly those that wreak havoc on your established routine. You really want to share with me your tips, techniques and tactics for coping with these changes and adjusting.

We just added the second child to the household 10 days ago and I'm having the same difficulty adjusting to this new life as I did when my son was born in 2010. I know that there is an adjustment period and I know that it will take time. That being said, I know there has to be a better way to handle these changes than running a constant loop of negative thoughts in my head about how things *used* to be and how they will *never* get better again.

Is this something that mindfulness or even meditation can help with? I want to be able to turn the record around and get some perspective. Assume for the moment that therapy is something that I will pursue but not immediately given lots of different factors.
posted by Leezie to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "At times like these, it is good to remember that there have always been times like these."

For me, just knowing that I am terrible at transitions helps me contextualize my unpleasant feelings as feelings that are real, but often not grounded in long-term reality but rather short term agitation. This is multiplied by other stressors like lack of sleep, poor nutrition or lack of down time. Continual reassurance-seeking is a problem, but at particular crisis times, having an almost routine touching base with my partner or friends "This is hard but it won't stay hard, right?" is helpful. The fact that they are blase about things is something I can often take cues from. As much as my brain might think otherwise, things rarely get off-the-chain worse without something actually BAD happening. The addition of a second child [mazel tov!] is not such a thing. See if you can build little subroutines that bring you happiness that involve your new arrangement. That and try to get some sleep even if it means doing something that might otherwise be unorthodox (staying with a friend, sending the kids with your partner somewhere, sleeping in the garage) because keeping your stress level down is the best way to make this move on in your brain. Best of luck, I know it's not easy.
posted by jessamyn at 7:59 PM on November 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

This sounds tough and frustrating. I'm not sure if you're the party that gave birth, but if you were could these feelings of anxiety be exacerbated by some low-grade post-partum depression? Are you sleeping and eating?

I also get into this infinite loop mode when things feel out of my control and I've started taking like 5 minutes whenever this starts up to just be still and affirm to myself that I have every ability to make it through to the good times. Because ultimately we are all capable of dealing with what comes our way -- innately so, in my experience and opinion -- and we just forget that sometimes and don't know how to activate that side of ourselves.

What does your partner do to help assuage these feelings? Can you lean on them right now for reassurance?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2012

Hey, congrats! Yep, I'd recommend mindfulness meditation. You might pick up Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. That won't account for the irregularity and the lack of sleep, but it might help you redirect some of the negative thoughts when they arise and stay aware of the context jessamyn describes above.

Another suggestion: make sure you're taking a few minutes everyday for yourself, whether it's for mediation or relaxing in another way. Build a routine around that time. Everything else can be chaotic, but you'll have that time when you're allowed to let go.
posted by vecchio at 8:21 PM on November 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is there a way you can leverage your previous success with adjusting to your first child to help keep those unhelpful thoughts from running on loop? Instead of "God this sucks and will never get better" try to focus on "I've done this before, kicked ass, and at least know what to do with a baby this time".

When I find myself getting into a mental rut, I snap a rubber band on my wrist just to have a physical reminder to snap out of it.

If you want someone to email, I'm at a very similar point (due with my second in two weeks) and would be happy to commiserate.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:44 PM on November 24, 2012

Yes, mindfulness and meditation, when practiced on a regular basis, can help with this. It helps me anyway. Also, physical activity and being in nature.

For kids specifically, I've found that taking time to just focus on my kid, instead of the millions of other things I have to do, helps me feel better. For example, with an older kid, a friend once suggested a magic cure to when your kid is driving you totally batty: Sit down in front of your kid. Look them right in the eye. Snuggle up to them. It's hard to feel so crazy, at least for a moment. It's a break from the crazy to just enjoy the oxytocin and love.

One thing I wondered when I saw this post - any chance you're having a little postpartum depression? It's pretty common. Not that you should necessarily do anything different if that is the case, but maybe worth thinking about...
posted by latkes at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2012

Best answer: I try and remind myself that I can't actually see the future, and that every time I've ever tried to predict how my life would go, I ended up being dead wrong.

Despite the fact that my mental predictions are rarely ever correct, in moments of stress and big change I forget that I am almost always wrong and I start constructing elaborate predictions for what the future is going to look like. And those predictions are often really melodramatic: I don't think I've ever thought to myself at a time like that, 'This project is really hard. That means it's probably going to take longer than I think and I might mess up a couple of the details and I'll probably have to double-check all of my work.' Instead I think, 'This project is really hard! I'm probably going to fail at it completely, get fired, and will probably end up living in a box by New Year's!'

But I have learned to say to myself, 'Self, I mean this as kindly as possible, but: you're always wrong. So stop trying to predict the future. You can't actually see what is going to happen, and neither can anyone around you, barring magical talents that they're not telling you about. Accept that the only way you're going to get to see what the future looks like is by living your way into it.' I suggest you try telling yourself something similar, because a lot of the stress in your situation sounds like it is coming from your feeling that everything is never going to be good again, and frankly, how do you know that?
posted by colfax at 2:05 AM on November 25, 2012 [10 favorites]

Ask your OB or your baby's pediatrician about post-partum depression. I realize that, in your mind, this is part of a larger pattern in which you can't cope with change. But you're in a uniquely vulnerable state right now, between the hormones and the sleep deprivation and the change, and there are resources to help. Please seek them out.
posted by decathecting at 5:30 AM on November 25, 2012

Best answer: One thing I do is to sort out my actual worries from the great long list of concerns. I may have 1,000 things to do when I, say, move to a new house, but I'm not actually worried about most of them--I'll make time to get the phone connected and the mail forwarded, and I'll even call the electrician and the title attorney and insurance agent and all that. There are legit worries, certainly--do I actually make enough money to afford this place? Is there significant rot under that leaky roof? In times of transition and stress, it helps me to figure out what, if anything, I need to worry about, as opposed to what I need to get done.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:13 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

My mindfulness chant is, "This, too, shall pass." It works for the good times (it keeps me centered and focused on the thing at hand) and the bad times (it reminds me that whatever is happening isn't going to happen forever). That little phrase has helped me through some really awful times and has helped me cherish the really great ones.

I also try to take a few minutes out of every day to just be. Breathe, relax, and be. It's not always easy but it always, always helps.
posted by cooker girl at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2012

Best answer: Meditation is a tough one 10 days post partum. If you could be meditating, you could be sleeping - and the sleep might be better for your mental health.

Have a good cry, hell have several - it's hormone hell in there and letting it out can be helpful.

If there is somebody that you trust that can listen for an hour, please invite this person over for a cup of tea and have a chat - you need to be taken care of.

This too shall pass.
posted by crazycanuck at 9:33 AM on November 25, 2012

When there are big adjustments, I try to let myself have lots of treats -- whether it's a mocha, a chance to go for a run, more fluffy things on hold at the library, or asking for more massages. I try to make mostly comfort food and to not schedule anything extra. All of these things help calm me and make me feel better while I adjust and figure out what the new schedule and routines are.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:38 PM on November 25, 2012

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