By Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C
Life is full of transitions and managing them can come with many emotions, including excitement, anticipation, fear, and loss. Often you can experience these emotions all at once, and navigating them can be difficult.
Some life changes we choose to make, and others happen outside of our control. All changes have their challenges, especially the ones we don’t choose. Whether your transition is due to retiring, changing a job, moving to a new home, or a divorce, here are some tips that can help make the transition a little smoother.
- Practice mindfulness and stay in the moment. Focusing on the past can cause depression and focusing on the future can cause anxiety. We often worry about things that never happen, so focus on what you are doing at the moment. When your mind wanders gently, without judgment, bring it back to the present moment of what you are doing right now. No matter what stage of the transition you are in, this will help you feel grounded, lower your anxiety and feel more in control.
- Feel your feelings. Change can cause feelings of loss and grief, even if it is your choice. You are leaving something behind and starting new. Allow yourself to grieve the loss that is part of your life transition.
- The more we try to stop our feelings the more energy we give that feeling and it just becomes worse. Allow your feelings to be present without judgment or analysis. Speak kindly to yourself like you would a friend and don’t beat yourself up for feeling loss. Sometimes setting aside time in your day to feel your feelings can help to feel more in control. For example, you can tell yourself you can focus on your feelings from 2:00 -2:30 each day. This way if you are overwhelmed by your feelings you can gently remind yourself that you have time set aside to focus on them.
- Have a plan. With intent, ask yourself, what do I need to be doing right now? This will help you refocus and stay in the present. Break your planning into manageable pieces like putting on your calendar a time that you can brainstorm what you need to do. Each day, write down three things you can accomplish. If three feels overwhelming, pick only one.
- Build in self-care. Taking time for yourself will help you accomplish more and be better able to take care of your other responsibilities. Self-care may include exercise, meditation, making healthy food choices and spending time with healthy people. Put it on your calendar just like a meeting. Ask a friend or family member to be an accountability partner. Tell them your self-care plan so they can check in with you.
- Plan something fun. You can manage the transition and all the feelings that go along with it and still do something fun. Make a list of five fun things you would like to do and put them on your calendar.
- Remember to laugh. Laughing is therapeutic, releases endorphins and is one of the best ways to reduce stress and help you feel balanced. Especially when you are dealing with life transitions. So, watch a funny movie and start laughing.
- Talk to a professional. We all need help from time to time. One way to take care of yourself is to ask for help when you need it. Sometimes talking to someone objective, even just once, can help you move forward quicker.
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