5 Tips to Help You Manage Life Transitions
These days, it feels like everything is changing, now more than ever. Whether it’s starting a new school (or starting school remotely); beginning a new job, or losing one; having someone close to you be diagnosed with an illness or being diagnosed yourself — change is hard. Adjustments and transitions are the most common reasons people seek therapy. In a world that can sometimes feel like it’s flipping upside down, how can you not only manage life transitions but find balance?
Let Yourself Grieve
Most people realize that change is hard, but what few people realize is that what they are feeling is actually a form of grief. David Kessler, who wrote On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through the Five Stages of Loss, recently talked about how the changes many people are feeling right now is actually grief in an article in Harvard Business Review. In discussing how accepting grief is one of the most empowering things we can do right now, he said, “Acceptance, as you might imagine, is where the power lies. We find control in acceptance.” Don’t beat yourself up because you are hurting. Let yourself grieve.
Emphasize what will stay the same
During life transitions, it can often feel like everything has changed but in reality, many things stay the same. A recent study found that people were better able to embrace change when they were also able to recognize continuity. Look around you, what hasn’t changed? Are you living in the same place? What people are still in your life? What hasn’t changed about your personality? What are some of the constant strengths you have exhibited throughout your life?
Make a Plan
Another tip to help you manage life transitions is to make a plan. Dr. Srini Pillay, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says, “By making your intentions more specific…you can decrease the uncertainty and therefore make it easier to embrace the change.” Make your plans specific. If you’ve lost your job recently, for example, what is your plan? Where are you going to look for a job? What kinds of jobs will you look for? How long will you spend looking for a job each day and at what times? When you make a specific plan you are able to bring control and stability back into your life even in the face of big life transitions.
Another important thing we can do to manage life transitions is to take breaks. Ferris Jabr, a scientific writer, says, “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life … moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.” When you feel overwhelmed and the uncertainty of your transition threatens to swallow you, don’t be afraid to take a step back and take a break.
Ask For Help
Many people feel like they need to do everything on their own, but one of the best ways to find peace during life transitions is by asking for help and talking to people. Research from U.C.L.A suggests that talking through things and actually putting your feelings to words can lessen the upsetting responses in the amygdala or the part of the brain that deals with emotion. By talking through things you can become less stressed. Don’t be afraid to schedule an appointment, or talk to a friend. Choose to confront life transitions together.