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Facing Life’s Transitions

July 27, 2015

Transitions occur throughout our lives. Children may struggle with changing schools, the beginning of high school, and parents getting divorced. Adolescents and young adults may have to work through starting and finishing college or beginning a new job. Adults experience change as moving to a new area, starting a new job, injury or illness of themselves or close family or friends, the gain or loss of a family member, change in job responsibilities, or change in marital status. Older Adults may struggle through retirement or adjusting to chronic illness. The list goes on, but these are just some of the changes people may experience throughout their lives. Some of these changes we have chosen for ourselves whereas others are due to circumstances outside of our control. We also do not know how we will react to these changes until we have to face them. Therefore, we may respond in ways we did not expect which can further our feelings of lack of control over these situations. Below are some things to keep in mind regarding your recent life transition:

Feelings of depression and anxiety are expected during any life transition.

Whatever the change is in our lives, there is always something we have left behind that was comfortable and familiar. Once we move on, we have to deal with the unknown landscape of our lives and changing circumstances. This may result in increased worrying about the future. Some people may even feel surprised that they are experiencing depression or the “blues” after a significant change they chose for themselves. For example, a woman can be very excited about her new, healthy baby but is taken aback by her feelings of sadness, mood swings or crying spells (i.e. “baby blues”) or even more severe symptoms that characterize depression. The bottom line is that these feelings are normal and expected, and we can allow ourselves to feel them in the face of these life changes.

It takes time.

This is one of the most important things to keep in mind during any transition. We have to allow ourselves to adjust to our new jobs, new families, or new places to live. As the saying goes, change will not happen overnight. We need to be patient with ourselves and allow ourselves time to settle. The transition will probably take longer than we expect. When we give ourselves a buffer, we do not distress ourselves based on self-made timelines for adjustment.

Reshaping our sense of identity.

People often define themselves based on their circumstances, the things they do, and the people by which they surround themselves. The minute any of these changes, people may not know how to understand themselves within life’s new circumstances. They can begin to see themselves from a different perspectives and look at the other positive aspects of themselves they previously took for granted.

When the transition is one which a person chose for himself or herself.

Someone may have decided to take a new job at a different company, move to a new city for a different job, or gain a new family member. This person may have second thoughts about it, once in the new circumstance. It’s helpful for one to remind oneself why this decision was made in the first place. Take a step back to look at the big picture. Once this person understands that the adjustment is temporary, he or she can begin the process of setting their life back on track.

Create a new routine.

The sooner you start a new routine, the sooner you could have the opportunity to adjust to a new life. It will probably feel uncomfortable and foreign at first, but when people can hit the ground running, they can get to their end goal sooner.

Change as opportunity.

It probably will not feel like it at the time, but it can be. Any life transition can be the chance to take advantage of circumstances or making changes you previously thought of, but were unable to commit to.

Not your first time transitioning.

We have probably all gone through transitions before. Even if they looked or felt different, we were still able to cope with them and make it through. We can look at what went right or wrong last time, and use those tactics to support ourselves through the transition we’re facing now.

Look to the people around you.

Co-workers and supervisors at the new job, friends in new and old cities, family members and spouses during family changes; these are all part of the support system. They are the people you can lean on in times of struggle. A support system is one of the most invaluable and effective coping strategies for change. Other strategies include exercising to relieve the stress and making a plan to create a new routine. If the struggles persist, help is always available.

These are just some things to keep in mind when facing a life transition. Change may be inevitable, but getting too far off track doesn’t have to be. If the transition takes too hard of a toll, you can always seek help to learn new coping strategies . And we’re here to help! Check out

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