Article written by Denver therapist: Jessica Wright, LPC
Life transitions can be tough. They can often lead to feeling frightened, anxious, or overwhelmed.
But not all life transitions have to be stressful events that bring up intense emotions.
Sometimes change can be motivating towards growth and can even be exciting.
Some anxiety or fear during life transitions can be normal but when it begins to interfere with your life, it is time to take action.
A life transition can be anything that alters your life.
Read More: What Is Mental Health And Why Is Mental Health Important?”
Anything from simply aging, going away to college, becoming a parent, retiring, getting married, moving, illness, or getting a new job all bring new emotions that require their own transition process.
Change comes in many different forms and can elicit different responses or reactions.
Checking in with your mindset can be a powerful tool to understanding how you relate to change and what you might be needing to navigate this time in your life.
Change can be unfamiliar and the unfamiliar can elicit anxiety.
It can be something that you choose such as changing careers or going away to college, or something involuntary such as an illness or accident.
Transitions often force us to challenge ourselves and grow. They can sometimes take us out of the present and lead us to question the past or even the future.
Whether it is a big change or small, a positive change or loss, significant change or not, the key to mastering change is to embrace it as an inevitability of the human experience.
When we resist change, it can often leave us feeling stuck and leave space for uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety and depression to persist.
When we embrace change instead of resisting it, we allow ourselves to be open minded to the change which can support us in practicing acceptance for what is.
Continuously incorporating healthy coping skills and mindfulness into your life will empower you to manage future transitions (good or bad) in a healthy way.
Here are 5 tips to manage life transitions:
1. Name your emotions.
“What am I feeling in this moment?” A question to ask yourself when you begin to feel uncomfortable.
Some emotions can feel so overwhelming or uncomfortable that it can be challenging to face them head on.
Sometimes simply naming our emotions can give them less power or even give us information about what we might be needing.
For example, if you feel anxiety, it may be because of fear.
In this case, you might simply need to name your emotion accordingly: “I feel scared.” Begin to notice your emotions as an observer.
2. Connect with your values
Ask yourself: what is important to you and your life? Sometimes life transitions can leave you feeling distant from your sense of self.
Denver Therapist, Jessica Wright
During life changes, more than ever, take time to connect with your core values that make you, YOU.
Think about what is important to you and engage in behaviors that are meaningful.
Is connection important to you? Stay in contact with your friends. Join community groups. Anything that can help you to live close to the things that are important.
Change can often leave us feeling like our worlds are turned upside down.
Do what you need to do to connect with your sense of self and familiar things.
3. Stick with a routine
Transitions can often breed chaos in daily routine.
We can fall out of doing things we enjoy, even sleeping the way we were used to.
Sticking with a consistent routine can activate the rewards centers of our brains which leaves us feeling accomplished and when we feel accomplishment, that elicits motivation which improves our mood overall.
Habits and consistent routines have the ability to allow us to engage in values-based activities.
4. Manage your internal dialogue
“How am I talking to myself?” The way we talk to ourselves matters.
Read More: “Taking Risks Can Come With Rewards You Are Worthy Of: 5 Truths To Taking Risks”
If your internal dialogue goes against your values or invalidates you experience, this can lead to uncomfortable emotions.
Check in with your self talk and adjust accordingly. Begin to practice speaking to yourself the way you would communicate with a friend.
5. Create a new beginning
Looking back, how would you want to narrate this time in your life? What would you want to say about this time? How did you show up?
Begin to create the narrative you would like to portray and live in congruence with it.
It can also be a time to hit the reset button and voluntarily create the change you would like to see in your life.
Using these tips along with reaching out for support whether it is individual therapy or maintaining strong social connections can help make your life transitions more manageable.
Transitions are a natural part of the human experience and we must embrace that as an inevitability.
Many times they can leave us feeling stuck or stagnant, but they do not have to.
Life changes are also an opportunity for self-reflection, self-exploration, and growth.
Your next transition could be good or bad, significant or not, but it won’t be your last.
Jessica Wright is a Denver-based therapist licensed in both Colorado and California. Jessica helps people through big life transitions, disordered eating, ADHD, trauma, anxiety and depression.