It’s not like I didn’t know. Parents, older siblings, friends, mentors—really anyone—have told me that life flashes before my eyes. I often find myself wishing life would just slow down. It is beyond me that I’m almost halfway done with college, that this time last year I was preparing for a summer in Europe, that two years ago was my senior spring break in Disney World.
The list goes on, and I’m sure you lose your breath looking at the one year marks for your past several years. Life can be a blur and make us feel out of control. But we don’t have to let chaos structure our thoughts and actions. When you feel like you’re holding on for dear life—whether from excitement or hurt—here are three tips to help you manage life when it slams on the gas pedal.
1. Identify the positive
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in big life changes and busyness. But many times, it’s good stress, exciting new things or positive change. When you’re out of breath, ask why. Sometimes I look at my to-do list and become borderline paralyzed. In those moments, I choose to actually read my to-do list: journalism story, dinner + Netflix with a gal pal, hiking + dinner date, call Mom. These are all wonderful things, and while busyness can be stressful, take a deep breath and remind yourself to be grateful.
One way I like to identify the positive: make a list of “thankfuls” each day to focus on all the good despite the craziness.2. Process the stressful
New things aren’t always fun—we all know that. Thinking about adulthood, having hard conversations and making difficult decisions aren’t activities I always enjoy. Life isn’t all roses and daisies; don’t pretend like it is. We do experience pain and frustration, but in this blur of chaos, take time to process these topics. Sometimes I want nothing more than to sweep my emotional trash under the rug and pretend like it’s not there, but it always catches up with you in the long run.
Some ways I like to process the stressful: journal about it (saying exactly what I’m thinking even if it sounds mean or hurtful or judgmental), ask wise friends for advice, do yoga, take a nap and listen to calming music.3. Slow down and savor each second
I really can’t put it any better than Ferris Bueller when he said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I often daydream about my summer in France, particularly one weekend trip I took to the countryside.
I remember swimming around in the lake, climbing the castle tower, playing card games till the early morning hours, dipping my Nutella pastry in my coffee, watching the wind dance with the grass, pulling sweet, juicy plums right off the trees. I think about eating dinner with my friends in the backyard, feeling the chill of the ancient stone stairwell on my bare feet, my stomach dropping as I just took in the vast valley, hiking through the quiet countryside, rolling the car window down as my hair whipped about and Coldplay’s “Talk” played on the radio. Every time I hear that song, I think of the blissful, carefree moment.There’s nothing I can do to get back to that moment. Even if I traveled the 4000 plus miles to France, that moment won’t be there when I step off the plane—and that’s okay. Those moments are ones I will cherish forever and ever. I know I can’t relive that moment, but the sweet nostalgia still gives me butterflies as I write this almost a year later.
I think of where I was in that moment, of my specific hopes and dreams during that weekend in the French countryside. I see that some of those things I’d been pining over and for weren’t meant to be. The thought of the unknown and what could be often dictates my thoughts day after day, but that weekend, I chose to be in those precious moments and not think about what was waiting for me back in America.
Some ways I like to slow down and savor: take deep breaths, choose to set the past and the future aside even if for a short minute and be in the moment. Being in the moment for me means closing my eyes, breathing slowly, cherishing the moment and experiencing every sense of that specific second.
There’s no moment like the present, and when life becomes a blur, the present often doesn’t get experienced to its full potential. There are slow seasons, exhilarating seasons, painful seasons, emotional seasons. They all look different, but each has a purpose; it’s up to you to find it in the little moments.