5 ways to cope with life transitions
We all deal with change, whether we like to or not. We can try to be in control of our lives as much as possible, but there is one aspect we simply cannot avoid: change.
Change is inevitable.
Change can come in many shapes and sizes - small changes leading up to an eventual big change, or one huge change hitting you all of a sudden.
We experience all kinds of transitions in our lifetime - becoming a parent, losing your job, finding a new job, sending your child to college, becoming an empty-nester, losing a spouse, the list goes on.
So the question is, how do you cope with transition? Do you embrace it as a learning opportunity? Or do you try to rush through it in hopes of finding something better on the other side, AND FAST?
Often with transition comes loads of stress and anxiety. We typically struggle to adjust to change and may find this period of life extremely uncomfortable. That’s okay. Let’s discuss a few ways we can harness these transitions to more effectively cope with change. And, even better, learn and grow from them.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to handle life’s major transitions:
1. Don’t rush through a transition.
It’s the natural thing to want to rush through and get back to normal, but you could be squandering a great opportunity to learn and grow. Be sure to recognize that change is one of the most formative times of our lives. There are some helpful questions that are worth asking and processing through -- such as, “What is it time to let go of? What’s lurking around the corner? What’s next?”
How to not rush: Take time to reflect. Build it into your routine a ritual of mini-retreats. Perhaps one hour of reflection per week. Or pick one weekend day, once a month to retreat and refresh your mind, leaving space to reflect on what’s going on. Maybe choose a soul searching book to read during these times of reflection. Anything to slow down to think about the “big picture”.
2. Focus on the positive aspects.
It’s easy to spot the negatives during a major life transition. Change is rarely comfortable, but it can carry some positive aspects to it. The positive aspects are worth seeking out, even if they are small and not obvious to identify. Try to make the best of the situation.
How to find the positive aspects: Identify the areas of negativity in your life. Is it at work? Is it at home? Tackle these negative aspects one at a time. Try practicing gratitude. The little things certainly do add up. Each day, think of the people or things that bring you comfort or happiness and think of ways to express your gratitude. This can be something as simple as thanking a loved one for doing the dishes. How about making a goal of sharing one gratitude a day?
3. Keep to a routine.
While it may be tough during a major transition, keeping to a routine can give you a sense of comfort. A routine can serve as an anchor, allowing the brain to be aware that while a lot is changing, something in your life remains the same. Some helpful activities in your routine can include regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, reading books, and keeping up with your hobbies.
How to keep to a routine: Write down your routine and check it off as you go. If you get easily distracted throughout the day, be sure to knock out essential activities in the morning. For example, exercising in the morning is not only a great way to start the day, but it allows you to check off an activity that won’t be hanging over you all day. Also, be sure to include in your routine regular contact with others. One meaningful connection with someone can be powerful.
4. Keep a sense of humor.
Laughter can reduce stress and anxiety and improve coping skills and mood. Laughter has the power to break the tension. Allow yourself time to lighten the mood and find humor in the situation.
How to keep a sense of humor: Think of something that can always put you in a good mood. Is it a movie? A book? A game? Try to find a way to make light of the situation you are going through. Though it may be tough, remember: life happens. You might as well embrace it and try to find those small things that make you smile.
5. Don’t go through transitions alone.
Be sure to have support as you go through this tough transition in your life. It’s ok to ask for help. That’s a good sign that you know yourself well enough to recognize that you need help.
How to get support: Communication is important during a tough transition. Nobody can go through life alone. Be sure to let a few people around you know what is going on. This will help if you need to verbally process, seek advice, or have someone keep you accountable. This can be your family members, friends, a mentor, or even a life coach (yes, that’s why I’m here).
It’s important to recognize that change is inevitable. Transition is a part of life and is often the stepping stone towards development. Embrace it! Don’t hide away from transitions or try to rush through them. They may be your best opportunities to “grow up” and gain wisdom.