Dealing with transitions, whether expected or unexpected, can be very difficult. Life changes have a way of knocking us down, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, increase stress or loss of self. But transitions are inevitable. Whether it is a planned transition, like going to college or entering retirement, or an unexpected transition, like losing a job or change in functioning after an accident, there are steps that can help ease the negative consequences of transitions.
1- Allow yourself a few days to process- Especially when we experience an unexpected transition, we need to give ourselves a few days to process. Once we allow ourselves to do that, we should move ourselves into step 2.
2- Accept your new reality- Denial or avoidance will not get your life back on track. We must consider our new reality and move towards acceptance. This can be a longer process depending on how severe the transition or loss.
3- Stay in tune with your feelings- You must consider all the feelings both good and bad. Ignoring the negative feelings surrounding our new situations doesn't make them disappear. According to Dr. Jennfier Kurst, getting rid of feelings not only backfires but it also drains us of our psychological energy.
4- Concentrate of your what’s important- During transitions, we tend to keep focused on the past or the future. We can at times lose sight of what is important. Courtney Clark, author of The Giving Prescription, recommends staying focused on the Bull's Eye. In times of transition, it's easy to get distracted by unimportant details. So staying focused on what is most important can decrease stress and alleviate feeling overwhelmed .
5- Reassess your goals- Based on your new situation, your past goals may not be realistic anymore. Just because your goals may change, think of ways your current situation can catapult you forward or in a way you never thought of before.
Not matter what change you may be experiencing, accepting your new reality and then creating new goals about what is important can help ease the transition. Some transitions are harder than others so consider counseling if you feel stuck or depressed due to your new situation. A therapist can help you navigate and make adjustments to your new situation.
Amanda Be, LMSW, MBA is owner and counselor at Supportive Counseling Services in Grosse Pointe, MI. Amanda has been a practicing clinical social worker since 2005. She is passionate about helping others lead happier, more successful lives through her private practice, advocacy and volunteer work. Amanda’s main objective is to support others during life’s challenges and hopes these blogs will help. She writes and speaks on topics for parents, counselors and educators.