Thursday, 18 June 2020

Dealing with transitions in your life

Change in our lives is inevitable, yet it can still be a troubling thought for some of us. According to literature on stress and coping, there is no such thing as an inherently difficult life transition, so what is it about changes in our lives that we find so challenging?

Well, research has shown that the reason we can struggle with transitions, is because of the mindset we apply to the situation at hand. Life transitions that can feel particularly difficult to deal with include leaving home, starting a new job, and divorce. Achieving a positive mindset in all of these situations is not always easy, however, there are ways we can manage these transitions to make them less stressful.

  1. See the challenge in change rather than the threat – When we see change as a something to be dreaded or feared, we automatically open ourselves up to the stress which occurs when we feel threatened. Instead, try to approach any event that may scare and overwhelm you, into a challenge you can tackle. 
  2. Seek support throughout the transition – Studies have shown that having social support is one of the most significant keys to successfully managing change. Try to remember that absolutely everyone will go through a significant life transition at some point. Although everyone's experiences will be different, it can help to have that emotional boost along the way from people who care about you and may have helpful tips to share with you.
  3. Prepare for the change – As with many things in our lives, it often isn’t helpful to avoid or deny that change is happening. It may seem easier at the time, but the sooner we can accept what’s happening, the sooner we can start to adapt. In certain transitions such as retirement or moving house, research has shown that planning at least two years ahead, will allow the moving-on process to occur without the accompanying ‘devastation’ of the loss of your old home or job. 
  4. Use the transition as positively as possible – All major life transitions, no matter what they are, come with potential for meaningful reflection. Where possible, try to see the positives in the change coming, while also acknowledging the positive elements of this part of your life before the change. With some transitions, such as the death of a loved one, this can be extremely challenging, and it might feel impossible to identify positive aspects of this change. In this case, it can be useful to focus on the things you were able to experience before this change, and recognise that going forward, you are taking memories with you that you will be able to cherish forever.
  5. Realise that change is a natural part of life – Fortunately, our lives are never at a complete standstill, as this would be extremely boring and entirely uneventful. You may not be seeking or wanting change when it happens to you, but the realisation that transitions are inherent to human life is something that can be useful to remember. Instead of fighting it, try to accept it as something that we all face at some point, in different forms. The aim is to make these transitions as smooth as possible, to enable us to move forward and to grow, rather than becoming stuck in the past, in a part of our lives that is no longer serving us.

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