How to Cope With Life Transitions

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Sabrena PlathLGSW, MSWOutpatient Therapist.  Change in life is inevitable. Whether you’re in a new relationship, graduating college, or moving – life transitions occur often. However, even if you’re experiencing positive changes, they can be hard to cope with. Added stress - whether that be from an exciting event or an unfortunate accident, can cause problems if it’s not addressed. Learning to cope with life’s peaks and valleys is a skill set that will never go unused.   Related: 8 Mindfulness Practices to Reduce Stress

What is a Life Transition?  

Essentially, a life transition is a change that significantly impacts your life. It can be positive or negative, planned or unplanned. Examples of transitions include things like getting married or divorced, having children, the loss of a loved one, or serious illness.    Life transitions can be challenging because of the inherent shifts of something new you haven't experienced. It can cause things you didn’t expect and be difficult to navigate unchartered waters.   Sabrena Plath, Outpatient Therapist at Nystrom & Associates, explains the aftermath of transitions. “Through the course of our lives, we all go through a number of significant transitions. Regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or societal status, life transitions can bring anxiety, feelings of grief/loss, and often unanticipated challenges.”   Change can impact everyone differently– but it’s important to learn coping skills to help manage life transitions.   Related: How to Build and Maintain Coping Skills

Prepare & Set Realistic Expectations  

If it is a life change that you know is coming, like moving, plan as much as you can and set realistic expectations for that period. That might involve saying no to social invitations so you can pack ahead of time or making lists of things you need for a new space. Remember that things do not always go according to plan. There might be bumps in the road, and moving is typically a stressful time– so, adjust accordingly and plan when you can.  

Practice Self-Compassion 

During hectic times, it can be easy to beat ourselves up for not getting things done that we usually would or experiencing emotions that aren’t our norm. Utilize this time to practice self-compassion. Of course, if you’re a new parent, you are not going to be able to accomplish as much as you did before. If you are getting older, your body is going through changes you aren’t used to. Cut yourself some slack. If you are having trouble doing this, imagine if your best friend were in the same situation. What would you tell them? Surely you wouldn’t give them a hard time. See whatever challenge that is presenting itself to you as an opportunity for growth and give yourself grace along the way.  

Connect to Your Social Support

Never underestimate the power of turning to your support system. Who can you turn to when you need help? A friend, family member, or mentor? Social support is key to coping with change and managing it effectively. Talking with someone can help improve your mood and help you view the situation differently.  And if you don’t have a support system or someone that you trust, build one. Talking to a therapist can help you with whatever challenge you are facing. Plath adds, “Through the therapeutic relationship individuals in life transitions can feel supported and empowered to plan for the next phase of their lives.”  Related: 5 Quick Ways to Improve Your Mood

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

There are moments in life where it seems like we’re coasting through, and others when we need a little help. Whatever life transition you’re experiencing, please know that you are not alone. If you are having a difficult time processing a change, or want to plan for a future life transition, reach out to a therapist today. They can help you adjust and implement many more coping strategies into your life.   If you would like to connect to a therapist or counselor, contact our coordinators today.  

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