mental health & wellness

First-Week Fatigue

Calendar ScreenshotFirst week of school. First week of a new job. The first week of a new experience almost always, to some extent, overwhelms me.

And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way.

Dr. Nancy Schlossberg, who specializes in the study of life transitions, says that “even with a desired change there is disruption in your life. Until you establish a new life you will feel bewildered” (emphasis mine).

For instance, the Fellows Program that I started this week is a very desired change. It comes with new roles, relationships, and routines. This is beautiful. But it’s also bewildering.

Why? Because we want clear roles, close relationships, and consistent routines as much as possible and as soon as possible. Until that happens, every day can feel like a kaleidoscope. Dizzying. Disordered. Different from second to second.

To deal with this, I’m recalling strategies I’ve heard over the years for dealing with first-week fatigue:

  1. Maintain at least one core routine that was consistent before your life changed and that you’re deciding to keep consistent despite your life change. If you’re used to going for a run in the morning, knitting in the evening, or blogging once a week (my routine of choice), find a way to keep doing it. You might have to do it at a different time or place than before, and you might have to ask someone for advice on when/where/HOW ON EARTH to keep your routine alive through the life change. But a life-giving routine is deeply worth the effort. (For help with identifying your life-giving routine/s, I recommend this old post “What Are Your Life-Giving Questions?” by Eugene Cho.)
  2. Rest. And this does NOT just mean vegging out in front of the TV. It blew my mind when a mentor once pointed to my media-mired perception of “rest” and said, “That’s not rest! That’s mindless. Rest is mindful.” It could happen in different ways for different people — so long as it makes you mindful of how your mind, body, and soul are doing.
  3. Say no. In order to keep routine and rest in your life, you have to say no to some demands. I want to help people (good intention) and be liked by people (not-so-good intention) so badly, that I always want to say yes when people ask for advice, a favor, a ride, you name it. But, with practice, I’ve started learning to consider my needs, consider the other person’s needs, weigh their urgency, and sometimes say no. If you couldn’t realistically be helpful to the other person because of your own physical, emotional, or spiritual fatigue, it’s time to say no.

How do you deal with first-week fatigue? If you’re experiencing or approaching a transition right now, how do you feel about it?

1 thought on “First-Week Fatigue”

  1. Life is full of routines, sleeping, eating, brushing your teeth, etc., but we need to make sure we maintain our priorities even when something is new. Read the Bible, pray and dialog with our Heavenly Father — He will keep you grounded and focused in the midst of change! We all must adapt and learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

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