Dealing with change can be hard, but life transitions are unavoidable. There are times when we just don’t feel equipped to deal with change as it is happening to us. Life transitions for women, men, and couples can be brought from happy or stressful events. During a person’s life, it is normal to experience major changes. For parent’s, this change may be from an “empty nest.” For newlyweds, coping with change for new roles, expectations, and future planning with another person, might be experienced. All life transitions require some level of resiliency, adaptability and a positive outlook.
Without these mindset characteristics, the changes in life causing stress could have a negative impact and create a barrier to joy and happiness. People who are experiencing trouble coping with life transitions greatly benefit from the experienced feedback of a therapist. Learning ways to maximize resiliency is critical in life as changes are inevitable.
There will be significant changes that happen over the course of a person’s life, starting at birth. Developmentally speaking, people change as they learn new skills, new ways to do things, and more about themselves. The changes that happen from infancy on are normal parts of “growing up.” Parents play a huge role in helping their children to adapt to their new independence and skills.
As a child ages into young adulthood, the future begins to take shape and life transitions become more clearly about personal growth, achievement, and self-sufficiency. This is usually an exciting time. The life transitions causing stress during this time are a normal part of development. The stress is usually healthy and motivates someone for success.
Towards young adulthood and older, the pressure of independence and future goals can begin to create a phase of life transitions that cause anxiety or fear. The increased demands for responsibility and self-sufficiency become more pronounced. The perceived failures carry greater consequences ad they directly impact a person’s future.
Adults who find that they are not adapting well to change may start to feel anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, hopeless, etc. Life changes causing anxiety aren’t always bad. Even happy life changes cause anxiety, like marriage, birth, promotions, etc.
What makes people resilient to change is adaptability. Adaptability is a learned trait and some people are just more adaptable. There is research that even suggests Highly Sensitive People have ingrained personality traits that make them less adaptable.
When a person feels overwhelmed by changes, then it becomes harder to stay positive and motivated. They may begin to feel depressed or have chronic anxious. Adjustment Disorders are characterized by this type of difficulty with life transitions. It is marked by an inability to cope well with a specific change in circumstance and can cause severe distress.
It is important to learn healthy ways to process change and be able to develop adaptability. Personal growth and wisdom comes from experience that is gained during life transitions. Being mindful of your physical and mental health during these transitions is important. Taking regular inventory of your stress levels can give you an indication of whether you need to slow down or take a break.
Stress levels do not have a gauge or barometer for measurement. You can take a stress inventory by asking yourself a few simple questions:
If you find that the answers to these questions are “not good” more than “very well,” then it is time for a check in. A check in to your mental health begins with asking yourself about your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and beliefs about the changes that are happening around you. Negative feedback or self-reports indicate that you would benefit from talking to a therapist about how your life transitions are creating stress and how to process things more positively.
You might need to start scheduling time for relaxation, meditation, or quiet. You may even need to adjust your lifestyle choices while you are going through changes. That might include taking a break from alcohol, processed foods that make you have less energy, and/or giving yourself an earlier bedtime.
The main thing to remember is that life transitions causing anxiety are temporary. The key is to ensure that you are utilizing healthy coping skills and accessing the right support. This will ensure that you move through the phase with more resiliency and adaptability. Talking to friends or family may help, but when you are experiencing stress as a result of a life change, a professional therapist might be your best option.
There are many ways to deal with change, but not all are equal. Even the most successful, self-reliant individuals benefit from talking about changes in life with a therapist. There are many varieties of therapy to look into or try, but more important than that, is that you get started. The longer you wait to get help, the harder it might be to get back on track again.
A therapist can help you identify areas that you could be coping better and develop new strategies to handle things better. A therapist can also help you prepare for changes that might be coming up. This proactive approach gives you more confidence and abilities to handle any life transitions head on.
Changes that are life-altering often leave people feelings very isolated and relating to others who have not experienced those changes can be hard. Divorce, grief, and other types of support groups offer therapy sessions that allow people to feel connected to others.
Support groups and group therapy sessions also might benefit some individuals who have experienced a particular type of change, such as a life-altering illness or disability or a divorce.
If you or someone you know is dealing with stress caused by a major life change, have them reach out for help. You can call 407-592-8997 today for more information or to book a first session. Orlando Thrive Therapy specializes in helping people move forward in life, rising above any change in circumstance.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.