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How to Recover After a Stressful Season and Live Well When Life is in Limbo

I’ve been struggling again and I worry that I rely too much on Sesame Street to entertain my kid while I make food or put on makeup. I shared previously some tips on how to manage stress when you feel like you don’t have any free time, so I thought I’d write a follow-up post about how recover after a stressful season and how to keep living life even when everything is in limbo.

I feel like so many things were put on pause while we got ready to put our home on the market. Though we have no real timeline for the move, we know it’s imminent. In the first few weeks our place was listed, we had multiple showings and open houses and I was just trying to survive, but now things have quieted down into a slower pace and I feel ready to be part of the world again.

One of the key things I advocated in my post was simplifying during times of stress or particularly busy seasons and figuring out what commitments you can forgo while you’re under pressure. But what happens when your schedule isn’t so tight anymore and you feel like you have room to breathe again? Do you just revert back to the way things were before? Or maybe you’re living a new normal and you have to figure out what you want your life to look like now.

five tips for recovering from a stressful season and living well when life is in limbo

Five Tips for Recovering from a Stressful Season and Living Well When Life is in Limbo

1. Resume Your Social Life

Your social life may have been the first thing to go when you were busy dealing with illness, a job change, or other milestone, so now that the dust has settled, go ahead and resume activities you may have put on hold. Make plans with friends to get together for lunch or a coffee date. Plan outings for yourself and your family. You may have spent a lot of time at home or at work during a stressful time, but now you’re free to get out there in the world again. Take it easy and go slow. You’ll most likely find comfort in doing fun, familiar things.

While we were working on getting the house ready, I was busy all the time and I just didn’t have the energy for social stuff. Now that I’ve got the routine down for getting my house ready for each showing, it leaves me enough time to make plans with friends and family again. We took advantage of our free time this October and have gone to the beach, birthday parties, and the zoo.

2. Plan for the Future

Even if you’re living in limbo—waiting to relocate, family and relationship changes, etc.—it’s a good idea to check out the calendar and plan for the coming months. What holidays and birthdays are coming up? What can you do now to minimize your stress in the future?

I got a kick in the pants from Retro Housewife Goes Green when I saw her post about planning for a stress-free Christmas. I’m living day by day right now, but December is not that far off and I won’t have the time or the money to plan a nice holiday for us if I wait. I started a new notebook in Evernote for the holidays and I started three new notes: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For each note I made a list of things that I need to do, like buy decorations, make travel plans, create a budget, etc. Last week I managed to cross several things off my to-do list and it’s really getting me in the mood to celebrate the season.

farmers market pumpkins and squash
I love decorative gourd season!

3. Adjust and Create New Goals

When you’re in a stressful season of your life, you may have had a short term goal you were focused on achieving. Evaluate your goals and priorities and decide if they are still relevant or they need to be adjusted. If you already hit your big goal for the year, maybe it’s time for a new one. Do you have a method of tracking your goals or creating new habits that works for you?

Your goal could be to unpack all your boxes after your move or going back to the gym three days a week, but either way you may want something to keep you accountable. I’ve mentioned before that I like the Streaks App. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the 24 giant moving boxes in your living room while working your new full-time job, break it down into smaller chunks. Unpack 1 box per day and give yourself credit in the app, and for sure you’ll be totally moved in and settled in just 24 days. (It may seem like a long time, but I remember when we moved into our current place I still hadn’t hung curtains in the bedroom after ten months.)

4. Repair Relationships

It’s possible that during a busy season you may have cut people out of your life simply to survive. It’s okay to admit that we simply don’t have the mental energy to maintain communication with every person all the time. Now that your life is less chaotic, you have the time to call up friends and send texts and emails to the people you still love but may have lost touch with temporarily. There’s no need to make apologies or get into the whole story unless you want to. It’s enough just to say, “hi, I’ve been thinking about you,” and then suggest a date to get together.

Just this week I texted some former coworkers I haven’t spoken to in about a year. I don’t want to let work define my relationships, but that means I need to put in the effort to build those relationships again.

5. Redefine Self-Care

redefine self care by making time for yourself a priority

It’s a topic I bring up again and again because I do think it’s so important. What did you have to give up while you were dealing with a crisis or stressful time? You may have given up on the thing you needed most, like time for yourself.

I have a couple of friends who have told me about new activities they started, one is doing a water fitness course, the other has taken up running. I think both of these friends are amazing and I’m so glad they found a way to focus on themselves because self-care is reparative. I decided I want to read for 10 minutes a day. I read all the time—blogs, the news, Twitter, etc. But I want to read books, so that’s a perfectly good thing to add to my Steaks app to make sure I’m taking 10 minutes a day to do something I love just for me.

Here are some more self-care ideas that are fast, inexpensive, yet satisfying:

  • File your nails and use a nice hand cream.
  • Put on a facial mask. (You can even multi-task during this one.)
  • Buy new pajamas (or socks or underwear).
  • Pick out a pumpkin or decorative gourd (or something seasonal depending on when you’re reading this) to decorate your house.
  • Drink tea out of your favorite mug and stare out the window for five minutes.
  • Take five minutes in the morning to put on an accessory like a scarf or necklace your forgot you owned.
  • Eat a crisp fall apple.
  • Change your sheets and go to bed early.
  • Watch a TV show and focus on it. Don’t check your device or play games on your phone.
  • Doodle, draw, or practice your hand-lettering or calligraphy.
  • Look at a cookbook just for fun, and without the expectation that you’re going to cook anything in it.
  • Find a coupon or deal and plan to treat yourself. (I have a pizza coupon that expires on Saturday, so guess what’s for dinner on Friday!)

I hope you find some inspiration here to help you get back in the groove after a stressful season. More importantly, I want all of us living in limbo to do it as best as we can—thoughtfully and with intention. Leave me a comment about one of your current goals or something you’re excited to do this fall!

Image Credit // pumpkins by Christina at Invented Charm


  1. Thank you for linking to my post! Last year I ended up with a ton of health problems due to my stress levels so it’s something I’m working on a lot. I wish I had listened to the warning signs instead of letting it get to that point.

    Good luck with your planning and reducing stress. It’s so important!

    • Christina Christina

      No, thank you! I really took what you wrote to heart and it’s really helped me reframe how I’m approaching the fall/winter. I’ve been hyper focused on our upcoming move that I just forgot to even have a life or plan anything. This last weekend we made plans with friends to go to a pumpkin patch and I really don’t know if I would have done that if I hadn’t read your post.

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