Daily Transitions

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May 17, 2023
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Daily Transitions

This post is the eighth in the series: Transitions. Other posts reflect on the transitions of spring, graduation, parenting, career, aging, relationships, and diagnoses.

I just read through the transition blogs of the past few weeks. Each of them has been about a major life event – graduation, diagnosis, parenting, aging, or a seasonal change. Yet your most common transitions are the everyday ones. Some are handled well and you don’t even think of them. Others may trip you up, again and again, causing stress that adds up over time. How are your everyday transitions going? Getting home from (or logging off from) work. Returning from a trip. Ending a project. Leaving a social gathering. Endings and beginnings of all shapes and sizes.  

It can be hard to move from one thing to another due to inertia, fatigue, emotional responses, or wandering focus. Trouble with everyday transitions can contribute to a sense of overwhelm, feeling out of sorts, being late, or increasing clutter. One way to help yourself is through recognizing your own trouble spots and taking a moment as you move from A to B to consider what might help. Here are some ideas to manage trouble spots:   

Emotional Hangover

If you have elevated emotions, from an exciting day, an argument or an intense event your brain is marinated in the neurotransmitters that match that mood. Transitioning from that to a different activity can be hard. Let’s say you are a coach leading your team in an intense practice where you are cheering everyone on then you go home to put your toddler to bed.

It can be hard to wind down enough to do so. You may need to shake it off – literally move around to use up some of that energy, drink some water and give yourself a few minutes. Neurotransmitters take a minimum of 20 minutes to reset to neutral so building a time gap helps a lot. 

Reluctant Transition

Moving from something enjoyable to something not fun is hard for grown-ups too. I love to relax on the couch in the evening. I also love to sleep. It is the in between stuff I am not so keen on – cleaning up, flossing…. The longer I spend relaxing the less I want to do the not fun stuff until I feel like I am too tired to go to bed. This contributes to increased clutter, a stressor for me.

One way to tackle this is to use the advice from Brian Tracy, “Eat That Frog.” The basic idea is to do the worst thing as soon as possible in your schedule so it doesn’t stand in your way. For me this means building in a pause to recognize I am done for the evening and get some of the not fun stuff done before I settle into the couch.  

Back-to-Back Events

Way too often our lives are filled to the top with activities and commitments. When life is over scheduled, a pause is essential. I know smart people that come home from a vacation a day early. If they have to be at work on Monday, they come home on Saturday allowing themselves a full day to unpack, recalibrate, sleep, and be ready to get back into their routines.

Building in a pause works on a much smaller scale when you leave 10 minutes between meetings, add a coffee break while running errands, or take 5 minutes to breathe before jumping to the next thing. This is a deliberate act of self-care and sanity that needs to be practiced by both individuals and organizations. 

Endings (of all Kinds)

It can be hard to finish a project, leave a party, wrap up a conversation (I live in Ohio where the Midwest goodbye can take forever), or get rid of stuff. This can cause minor problems that cascade into increased aggravation.

Keeping in mind that done is better than perfect helps. Taking a moment to pause and feel gratitude for an item or event can allow you to let it go.  

What day to day transitions trip you up? Take a moment to consider ways you can help yourself smooth those out. I hope that you also notice those transitions that you manage well; you have solutions you can use in other areas of your life.  Find ways to build short pauses into your days so that you can make a conscious decision about how to handle the next transition.  


Laura A. Gaines

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