As we make our way through life’s many challenges and triumphs, we will experience numerous transitions. These transitions come one every shape and size and can be something we’ve planned for ourselves or something utterly unexpected. Some examples of when transitions occur are starting a new job, moving to a new location, changing our relationship status, or experiencing a life-changing injury. For some people reaching certain age milestones can be difficult to process, such as turning 40 or reaching retirement.
How Life Transitions Can Challenge Us
One of the most complex parts of facing life transitions is change. We often work hard to create a stable and reliable foundation for our lives based on habit and familiarity. Going through change, regardless of whether it’s a good or bad one, can lead to these foundations being shaken up. Moving to a new city means finding new places to shop, new routes to work, places to go for recreation, new doctors, and numerous other changes. Managing all these changes can leave us feeling incredibly overwhelmed. Other elements of life transitions that we may find challenging include:
- Stress Levels – Transitions can be an extremely stressful experience. Ironically, even moving into a new stage of life that should be less stressful, such as retirement, can feel stressful. Our definition of ourselves is often tied up in our current circumstances; even a positive change can be difficult to manage. Extended periods of stress can lead to mental, physical, and emotional hardship.
- Unexpected Transitions – These can be the most challenging form of transition. It doesn’t matter what form the transition takes; it can be overwhelming to have it hit suddenly. Job loss, pandemics, auto accidents, and injury can lead to abrupt life changes that we weren’t prepared for. This requires an immediate reimagining of who we are in relation to many areas of our lives, even if it’s only temporary.
There are numerous ways that you can help yourself navigate a transition well. Preparation is obviously the best step when it’s possible. Even when it’s not, it’s time to reassess your situation and set some reasonable expectations. Acknowledge that some parts of your transition period may be difficult and may take time to pass through. Setting small goals to keep you motivated is important, as is being patient and kind to yourself through this challenging time. Set new routines as soon as possible to promote a sense of peace and security, and stay connected with those who are important to you.
How Therapy Can Help You Manage Transition Periods
Working with a therapist when going through a difficult transition can be beneficial. These trained professionals can help you establish new routines, maintain a healthy relationship with your new circumstances, and develop plans to help you get through it successfully. Whether you’re currently going through a difficult transition period or know that one is approaching, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your mental health provider. Together you can navigate your present struggles and help you grow into your new place in life.