Dealing with the Stress of Being Independent

Moving out and being independent for the first time is one of the most anxiety-inducing things you can do. It’s a whole new world that you’ve never experienced up until that point. While you no longer need to keep your parents updated on where you are going and what you will be doing, you now have to worry about paying rent, utility bills, and making sure that you have enough money to feed yourself. On top of school or a new job, all of those new things that you have to worry about can be overwhelming at times. So here are a few things to help deal with the stress of being independent.

Tips for Dealing with the Stress of Being Independent

Don’t Be Messy

My apartment is usually in the same state as my mental well-being. If my room is messy, then I’m probably stressed out about something. But what I have noticed is that if I take the time to keep things tidy throughout the week, my mental health is usually a little bit better. It might be my mental health, but when I let my apartment get too messy, I start to feel overwhelmed. Not only do I have to do work-related/adult stuff, but now I have to clean my depression pit, as I like to call it. Being tidy is easier for some than others, trust me, I know, but even putting in a little effort every day will make a world of difference. 

Form Routines

I don’t know if it’s my ADHD or working from home for two years, but I need daily routines. Otherwise, I will go crazy. Without routines, I become a lawless person. I’ll stay up all night doing nothing, wake up at some degenerate hour, and eat whatever unholy but mildly convenient garbage is available. But with routines comes peace of mind. You know what to do during the day. There is always a game plan. For most of our lives, we have a set routine for 8 hours out of the day. School forces us into routines, and then one day, it’s gone. Some people can adapt and stick to a routine, and for others, like myself, it takes a lot of hard work and discipline. 

I am known to have the worst sleep schedule out of everyone in my friend group. I would text friends as they are starting their day and I’m heading off to bed. It’s something I have battled for the longest time, and it wasn’t until recently that I saw some major improvement. Had you told me a year ago that I would be waking up at 5:30 am to start my day instead of ending it, I probably would have laughed in your face. But, setting a routine is so important to overcoming the small worries of being independent. I can’t stress that enough. And if you’re anything like me and need help fixing your sleep schedule, check out our Sleep Hygiene series.

Making your own decisions 

Suppose I can praise my mom for one second here. She always said that she was raising adults, not kids. She allowed me to explore independence in ways that many of her friends didn’t let their kids do until they moved out. I don’t think I would have had the courage to move to Portland if it wasn’t for everything she taught me.

Making your own decisions takes guts. It’s so easy to default on someone else to make decisions because what happens if you make the wrong decision? What will the consequences be?

  1. What are your options? – I like to write down all of my options on a piece of paper. There is something about seeing them written out that helps solidify them for me. 
  2. Don’t Chase Perfection – No matter what you decide, there will always be problems to solve. No one is perfect, and you won’t make perfect decisions every time, but you have to do what you think is best for you.
  3. Seek Advice – I can’t imagine how often I have called my mom to ask her what she would do if she were in my position. The key here is to find someone you can go to who won’t tell you what to do but will give you sound input that will help you decide. Good counsel is not others making your decisions for you. It’s just making the decision easier. 
  4. Trust your Gut – It’s usually a good idea to sit and think on a decision when you can, but sometimes you know what it is. Don’t second guess yourself. Not every decision you are going to make is life or death. 

And if you are looking for more advice on making decisions, read this article from Harvard Business Review.

Adulting is Hard

There are a few days I wish I could go back to being a kid where my biggest concern was whether or not I had the biggest box of crayons. Life was so simple. But then most, I love being independent. There is freedom and adventure in being an adult—no one to tell you what to do or how to do it. You can do the dishes the next day, even though you probably should do them today. You can eat ice cream for dinner if you want, but you’ll probably feel like crap afterward, too. The best thing about being independent is that you are the captain now for the first time in your life. You get to make the decisions, and once you taste that freedom, there is no going back. 

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