Even though the world is constantly changing, it is human nature to want to hold onto what is comfortable and familiar, or to what we can control. And although life transitions – both negative and positive – are often accompanied by stress, you can learn to navigate change in a healthy way, allowing you to not only survive difficult situations, but to eventually thrive.
Types of Life Transitions
- Loss of a relationship (i.e., divorce)
- Death of a loved one (person or animal)
- Change in career or loss of a job
- Loss of a role in life (i.e., “empty nester,” caregiver, etc.)
- Getting engaged/married
- Becoming pregnant
- Entering adolescence, middle age, old age, etc.
Life transitions often can bring a variety of reactions, and may include:
- Crying spells
- Feeling scared or vulnerable
- Increase/decrease in appetite
- Sleep problems
- Trouble concentrating/confusion
- Mood swings
- Headaches/muscle tension
- Change in sex drive
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Identity confusion
- Stomach aches
- Lack of motivation
- Anxiety (i.e., worrying, increased heart rate, shallow breathing, etc.)
- Shock, numbness, or denial
- Feelings of guilt or failure
- Withdrawal from others or feeling lonely
- Relationship conflicts
- Decreased energy/fatigue
Dealing with the Stress of Life Transitions
One of the best ways of dealing with stress is developing resiliency and using healthy coping skills:
- Engage in multiple forms of self-care, such as getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in exercise and physical activity.
- Understand that a variety of confusing emotions may come up when dealing with life transitions that involve loss. Know that this is normal – and healthy – and that everyone experiences grief in their own way and in their own time. Find others with whom you feel safe sharing your feelings.
- Give yourself a break. Remember that you may be confused, find it hard to concentrate, or have low energy during this time of transition. Allow yourself plenty of time to recover. Don’t be too hard on yourself and ask others for help when needed. It is wise to not make any major life decisions during this time.
- Avoid engaging in unhealthy coping skills such as alcohol and drugs. Limit the use of nicotine and caffeine.
- Practice stress management techniques such as deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.
- Reach out to others for support, be it friends, family, co-workers, or even a mental health professional.
Sometimes Life Transitions Lead to Positive Change:
Often times when we experience loss or major life changes, it turns our world upside-down and causes us to re-evaluate our priorities. This can often time lead to positive changes, including:
- A shift in focus to what’s really important in our lives
- A chance to redefine our role in life.
- Learning to become more flexible and resilient
- Tapping into our strengths to increase growth and self-confidence
If you are experiencing a major life change, you don’t have to go through it alone. Contact Deepwater Counseling here or call 734.203.0183 ext. 700 to learn more.