Ironically, as I sit here trying to write a blog post on life transitions, there is a team of movers loading up a truck with all our possessions. Sometimes life throws a curveball, and we have to adapt.   

———— PAUSE ————   

That’s as far as I got on this blog post last fall. 

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WHEN LIFE TRANSITIONS TAKE PLACE, WE OFTEN END UP IN ‘SURVIVAL MODE’

Life changing transitions can span a wide variety of events including moving, beginning a new job, expanding your family, getting married, getting divorced, losing a loved one, or any other situation that requires you to adapt to a new normal. Some life transitions are wonderful and exciting; others are sad and deeply painful. The one thing that they all have in common is that they bring a complex array of emotions, many of which we don’t expect.

When we’re experiencing a major life transition, people around us often say things like, “take care of yourself”, or “don’t forget to make time for yourself”. As therapists, we fully encourage healthy self-care. We also know (just as you do) that when life really hits, these things are much easier said than done.

Now don’t get me wrong - you absolutely need to be taking care of yourself and using a variety of healthy coping skills. This will lower your stress level to help you get through, and (if you’re anything like me) your friends and family will find you easier to live with during the transition. 

The real challenge is finding time or actually remembering to do these things when there’s already so much going on.

It’s hard.

Sometimes it feels completely unrealistic.

We get it. 

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So WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO make it through a major transition? 

Here are our 5 essential survival tips for handling life changing transitions. 

  1. Slow Down For a Brief Break: Even if it’s noticing the sunshine at a stoplight, looking out a window, or 5 minutes of hiding in a bathroom to do some deep breathing - you need it. Pause and bring your mind into the present, if only just to notice that you’re alive and breathing. 

  2. Create Your Mantra: This is an encouraging line that you can repeat in your mind to get you through. It taps into your strength and resiliency. Often it can be helpful to use this during the brief break mentioned in #1. My go-to mantras are: “This is temporary. I can handle anything temporarily,” and “We’ve got this. A little bit at a time.” Your self-talk is incredibly powerful. Use it to your advantage

  3. Remember Your Successes: I’m fairly certain you’ve managed transition in the past. It may have been graduating high school, starting a job or college, moving to a new place, becoming a parent, or starting a new relationship. Transitions are built into life. Remembering how we’ve handled them in the past can give us ideas of how to do it successfully in the present. 

  4. Don’t Try to Do it All: When you’re busy with a life change, you often can’t keep up with all the tasks you usually do (even if they’re things you enjoy). Warmly and kindly remind yourself that you don’t have to do it all. Prioritize and decide what’s essential and what’s optional. Stick with what matters most and pause anything that can wait. My blogging is a perfect example. It’s okay to let some things go. 

  5. Reach Out: Finding good support is always important and I would argue that during major life transitions, it’s downright essential. Sometimes, this means delegating tasks or sharing the load with other people. Other times, it’s having a shoulder to lean on, spending time with people who care about you, or getting support from a trained professional. Reaching out to others is a sign of strength and it helps us feel less isolated during a major transition.  

Keep this list handy for the next time life changes. Hopefully, it’ll help you tap into your resilience and strength. If you need a little extra support getting through it, please reach out to us. We’ve got this. 

I’m here if you want to talk. Take care!  

- Shelly

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