Adjusting to Change and Life Transitions
The only real constant in life is change and at times it can make you feel like you’re on a terrifying roller coaster, up and down, constantly shifting as life races on, full of twists and turns. Not all change is bad, actually most changes are full of opportunity, but finding the happy side often depends on the mental outlook of the person dealing with it. Like it or not, people come and go from our lives (a good thing in some cases), love ones die, even career paths change. We spend so much time trying to reach our goals, planning out our lives with this perfect vision of what we feel is the ideal life that when something happens to change the outcome, it often causes stress. If you've experienced major life changes such as the death of a spouse, loss of a relationship, losing a job you love, moving, are experiencing "empty nest" syndrome, etc., experiencing stress is quite common.
So what happens when someone is facing life transitions they hadn't planned on?
This isn't an easy one to answer because everyone handles stress differently and what seems stressful to one may not to another. Often, the stress people experience is even imagined. Have you ever heard of this definition of fear? "False emotions appearing real"; it pertains to most people from one time or another in their lives. Why? Because stress depends on our personal interpretation and perception of situations in our lives. Basically, it comes down to our ability to endure the demands that face us and the better we cope with them, the better we can deal with stress. For example, moving to a new state might be a happy and exciting experience if everything else in your life is positive and stable. But if you're making the move without a firm job offer in your new city or perhaps are moving because of a bad relationship, you might find it very difficult to cope.
Adjusting to Change/Life Transitions
When it comes to change, in most cases, people adjust in just a few months, but for those that continue to feel stressed out and depressed, the following recommendations will help.
- You'll be guaranteeing that you'll have difficulty dealing with change if you fight it. While having a difficult time letting go is a normal reaction, not being able to move forward will only cause more pain and lengthen the adjustment period. Instead of focusing on what you're leaving behind, a long term relationship, a job, the good old high school days, focus on dealing with the changes now and look forward to a positive future by creating it. Before you can move past your fears successfully, you first need to accept the reality that your life isn't going to be the same but believe that it has the potential of being better if you accept your new life's journey.
- Set aside time to access what you're feeling during times of change. Whether it's meditation, taking a peaceful walk, journaling, or sharing thoughts with a trusted adult, if you're feeling apprehensive, it's important to stop and address how you're feeling about everything. Self reflection will help you identify what's causing you the most worry and makes it easier to look at a more positive side of the changes you're dealing. It will also help you take positive steps toward a bright future.
- When you start feeling weighed down by all the changes that are taking place in your life, remember the saying "take baby day steps". Set small, achievable day to day goals for the future and try not to get all wrapped up in speculations or worries about what hasn’t even taken place yet. Learn to live in the now, not in the past that could have been or an imagined future.
- If you feel you need help adjusting to change, therapy is a highly effective option and can help you make changes in yourself that will make it possible for you to the adjust to life transitions you'll need to face and finally see that change can be a very good thing.