Tips for Coping with Life Changes and Transitions
It’s natural and normal to be happy with the status quo. You like your job, you like where you live, you feel happy and satisfied with your life. However, change is always inevitable. It could be right around the corner at any time. Heraclitus, an ancient Greek philosopher, even said that the only constant in life is change. Life transitions aren’t always easy to deal with. If you’re like many people, fear of change may be something you carry with you all the time. It’s true that a lot of people embrace change and welcome certain transitions in life, but many people have difficulty coping with life changes and transitions.
How do you reframe change and think about it differently? How do you think about life transitions in a way that isn’t uncomfortable or scary? Let’s take a look at some tips for coping with life changes and transitions.
Accept That Change Is Inevitable and Not Always Controllable
Some changes are planned and expected. For example, planning for your kids to graduate, or having a baby, or planning for your kids to leave the house for college. Even changes that aren’t entirely expected can be planned for with enough notice. On the other hand, there are unpleasant changes that appear suddenly, such as serious illness, accidents or death. Probably the hardest part of coping with life changes and transitions is when they hit you suddenly and out of the blue.
Accepting sudden changes that you didn’t plan for is easier when you also accept that a lot of changes are out of your control. We often tend to think things like, if I had just done this or that, then this change wouldn’t have happened. However, in most cases, there isn’t much you can do to control what happens to you or others. Control what you can in your own life and let the rest go. Accepting that there are many things you can’t control is essential for coping with life changes and transitions.
Manage Your Stress
Coping with life changes and transitions often brings on a lot of stress. Take divorce for example. This particular event causes chaos in many areas of a person’s life. You might have to sell your house, rethink your identity without your partner, watch your family or friends pick sides, deal with your kids, assess your financial situation and take part in legal proceedings. Your entire life is likely to experience upheaval. As you might imagine, that’s a lot of stress and a lot to deal with all at once.
Managing stress is key to coping with life changes and transitions. Consider working these tips into your routine to keep stress from taking over:
• Practice mindfulness
• Exercise regularly
• Make time for self-care
• Breathe deeply
• Eat healthy food
Sometimes stress is good as it works to motivate you. But too much stress will make you feel stuck and frustrated. It’s important to find balance when coping with life changes and transitions.
Accept and Embrace Your Emotions
That might sound weird. After all, some of the emotions that come with change aren’t particularly pleasant. You might feel anger, fear, anxiety, sadness and frustration. However, accepting your emotions doesn’t necessarily mean liking them or letting them control you. It simply means accepting that you’re having the emotions. You can also work to reframe your emotions.
For example, right before something you don’t want to do, you might feel a pit in your stomach or get sweaty palms. Your first instinct is to call this fear. But these same feelings can happen with excitement as well. Instead of being afraid of whatever you’re about to do, think of it as excitement. Maybe you’re about to move or sign divorce papers. Instead of being afraid of where these events will take you, reframe it as excitement for the next phase in your life.
There are many ways to stay positive when coping with life changes and transitions. Accept that the events are big and memorable, but that they don’t have to be negative. Look at stress as a challenge instead of a threat. Instead of thinking about a big event as overwhelming, reframe it as something you can overcome and conquer. Appreciate that change has many benefits. For example, if you’re moving, you’ll get the chance to downsize and declutter. Maybe you’ve never had time before, but now that you have to move, you can do it.
Science shows that changes in your routine can actually stimulate your nervous system and grow new pathways. Think about change as a way to reflect on your past and think about your future. Think about the times in your life where you’ve successfully navigated another transition. Think about the ways you used to cope.
Another way to regain control during a transition is to plan for and expect it earlier. Obviously, there’s only so much you can do to plan for things that may not happen for years down the road. However, you can make a checklist for things that you would want to be done if something happened to you. These are just helpful suggestions if you’re someone who likes to have an element of control. You definitely shouldn’t sit around and think about worst-case scenarios.
Take Breaks and Focus On Self-Care
When coping with life changes and transitions, it’s important to make time for breaks. Find times where you can turn down the volume of your thoughts. Think about ways you can shut down and zone out. It might be watching your favorite show for a few hours or playing a game on your smartphone, or it might be playing with your pets or taking a walk. Whatever you can do to get your mind off the event you’re going through will help you feel refreshed and revived.
Self-care can be anything that makes you feel better. It might be some of the ideas mentioned above or it might be taking a break from cooking to eat out or getting a massage. It might also be simply doing nothing all day. We are often conditioned to think that a day without production is a day wasted. However, when you’re going through a tough transition period, it can be extremely beneficial to take a day where you allow yourself to do absolutely nothing productive.
Get Help In Coping With Life Changes and Transitions
Sometimes you need a little help in coping with changes and transitions in your life. Sometimes your personal support network isn’t enough. Seeking professional therapy can help you move past your obstacles and accept change in your own life.
Find a Life Transition therapist in Los Angeles to cope with transitional phases in your life by getting in touch with Menachem Psychotherapy Group. We are a professional group of therapists that specialize in therapy for couples, families and individuals.