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How Can I Cope With All of Life’s Transitions?

By: Danielle Bertini, LCPC

Changes can be hard. And even if you’re happy with the status quo, life doesn’t always comply with your wishes, leaving you to face a major transition. Dealing with these changes can be tough, but Whitebourne (2017) outlines 10 useful coping tips based on research involving life-span studies of stressful events. 

Recognize That Transitions Hold a Special Place in Your Life Memories.

Regardless of what the transition might be, it’s usually something that is a big deal and something you’ll remember for years. Rather than trying to ignore it because it might be mentally and physically taxing, try giving it the respect it deserves as an organizing principle of your life.

View Stress Not as a Threat, but as a Challenge.

Researchers have said that stress is in the mind of the beholder. With that notion, you can take just about any event that you’re afraid will overwhelm you and turn it into something you can rise above and overcome. 

Appreciate the Benefits of Change.

Life-span development research has shown that getting stuck in life’s grooves is actually detrimental to your cognitive growth. Changes in routine can act as stimulation to your nervous symptoms and allow you to grow new neural pathways. 

Remember the Times You’ve Successfully Navigated a Previous Transition.

As new challenges and transitions come your way, make sure to use the knowledge that you’re managed to cope with before to give you strength. Remember that time the tree fell on your house and was traumatic and expensive? You still managed to deal with it and move forward. 

Turn To Your Support Network.

Research in the stress and coping field shows that social support is one of the most significant keys to successfully managing and coping with change. This can even be something like an online community of people going through similar experiences as you to give you emotional support or even just some practical tips.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.

Getting things in order before a planned transition is one of the best ways to guarantee that all will work out. For example, retirement literature shows that planning ahead, preferably two years, will allow you to get through that significant life change without being devastated by the loss of your work role.

Use a Transition To Reflect on Where Your Life Has Been, and Where It’s Going.

Relocating reflects not just the practical aspects of moving, but the emotional ones as well. Each time you move, you must engage or disengage with items you possess, many of which have some type of meaning to you. For example, say you are going through a drawer and find a pencil from a trip you took to a national park with your family. Even if you decide to toss it out, for that moment in time you jogged a memory from a pleasant time in your past.

Focus on the Positive Aspects.

Maybe you have to move to downsize, or because you can’t afford the rent. Yes, you would rather stay, but now that you have to move, what do you think of that’s beneficial? Downsizing can allow you to declutter. Maybe moving allows you to be a part of a new community where you can make new friends. Look out for hopeful signs in every transition. 

Use Role Models To Inspire You Through This Transition.

Another useful tool can be to find examples of people who inspire you to navigate a challenging period in life. 

Realize That Change Is Inherent to Life.

You may not be seeking change, but when it seeks you, take heart in the fact that no one’s life ever stays the same. People enter and leave your life, material possessions come and go, and careers involve turning points. No one gets through life without undergoing some type of change.

If you find yourself struggling with managing transitions, you may find it helpful to talk with one of our therapists at Symmetry Counseling. Explore our counseling services online to discover how we can help, and contact us today to schedule an appointment for therapy in Chicago.

References

Whitbourne, S. (2017, March 14). 10 Ways to Make it Through Your Life’s Transitions. Psychology Today. Retrieved May 4, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201703/10-ways-make-it-through-your-life-s-transitions 

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