How to Deal With Life Transitions

Updated: Feb 7


When I decided to specialise in Life Transition Counselling, I would have never considered a transition like the one the world is experiencing. COVID-19 has meant change for all of us.

It has affected the way we perceive our health. It has changed the economy, habits, freedom to gather and travel, and our sense of security.


It has created a profound sense of uncertainty for everyone.

Coping with change

As a consequence, COVID19 makes us realise rigidly, that nothing is definite. No matter where we are in our lives, we know it will change in some way or another. For the most, this is an uncomfortable prospect. How we cope with change depends on our flexibility to adapt. Being flexible doesn’t mean you need to have it all figured out.


It’s more about being open and willing to see things differently.


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

Lao Tzu



Transition and emotions

Transitions are difficult, so it’s not surprising they come with challenging emotions; the most common are:

Fear

Considering the situation, this is not surprising. Feelings of apprehension about the future, wondering how you will face the changes ahead, or the preoccupations about your family's health.

Instead of running away from fear and avoiding it, accept this feeling. Be present for it. Be curious about how it feels. Even if it sounds scary, being open to the feeling and letting it flow through, you will allow it to pass more easily. No feeling lasts forever, but our resistance to feelings can make them stick around for longer.

Anxiety

Anxiety is another common reaction to life transitions. A sense of loss of control often triggers it. We get stuck in thinking of what we can do to change the situation and get overwhelmed by the chaos. Accepting we cannot control everything and let go of this need is the first step.

Another great tool to deal with anxiety is mindfulness. Focusing on the present moment, becoming aware of your body sensations through breathing exercises, allows you to learn how to have better control over your way of thinking.

If your anxiety becomes too overwhelming, then additional support like counselling is strongly suggested.

Depression

When plans change, or a situation doesn't evolve as expected; as a result, we can feel like we are punished for something we don't even know. Maybe you were planning on buying a house, and now you’re out of a job. Some situations can be even more disappointing, therefore allow yourself some time of low mood.

However, when you find yourself feeling low for several days, it’s helpful to talk to someone about improving the situation. Redirecting your attention can help shift feelings of sadness and help you move into a purposeful mood.


“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Particularly in transition times, strong emotions are perfectly ok. They are normal, and all of us will feel them at some time. Strong emotions can sometimes be motivating and energising. However, if unpleasant feelings start ruling your day, it’s time to reach out to someone you trust. It’s also a good idea to see your GP.


Transitions are opportunities for reflection.

A transition is the ending of one thing and the beginning of something new. You may be sad about the ending and anxious about the beginning. But what’s scarier than endings and beginnings is the time in between. We don't always have the opportunity to allow ourselves the time to sit in the middle phase of transitions. We have to get it over with.


“My new deliberate and slower pace has created a higher quality in my experiences.”

Lisa J. Shultz


Try to take it slow if you can; the middle phase is when we learn the most about ourselves. It’s a great time for reflection and growth.

Through your time of transition, other than practical questions, it is ok to take the time to assess your needs and explore what changes could be made. You could start by exploring some of the following:

  • Did I like my life before the transition?

  • Have my values shifted?

  • What do I want to change about my life?

  • How do I find meaning in my life?

  • Is there something I would like to do/learn just for fun?

  • How can I practise self-care? e.g. meditation, relaxation, reading, writing, watching TED talks

  • What am I grateful for?


Answering these and any questions that could help you find a meaning in your transition, help you gain a better insight, and possibly show you opportunities for positive changes.

As you deal with your transition, take one step at a time. Try not to rush the experience. Be patient. Nothing lasts forever. Soon you will be out there again with more wisdom, insight and knowledge about yourself than you had before.


Are you feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts or feelings? I offer free 30-minute online consultations.

Book your session here.


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