Updated: Oct 7, 2020
When I decided to specialise in Life Transition Counselling, I would have never considered a transition like the one we are experiencing now. COVID-19 has meant change for all of us.
It’s affected the way we view our health. It’s changed the economy, our habits, our freedom to gather and travel, and our sense of security.
It has created a profound sense of uncertainty for everyone.
Coping with change
Transitions like this make us realise nothing is definite. No matter where we are in our lives, we know it will change in some way or another. 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.
Transitions are difficult, so it’s not surprising they come with many emotions.
Common emotions during transitions can be:
Fear is common in times of transition and is particularly expected considering the current situation. You may be feeling apprehensive about the future, or wondering how you will survive the changes ahead. Perhaps you’re feeling fearful about the health of your family.
Instead of running away from fear and avoiding it, try and accept the feeling. Be present for it. Be curious about how it feels. 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.
Anxiety is another common reaction to life transitions. It’s often triggered by a loss of control. We get stuck in our heads thinking of what we can do to change the situation or we get overwhelmed by the chaos.
Many people find mindfulness helpful in combating anxiety. Becoming aware of how your body feels through movement or breathing gets you out of your head and intercepts anxious thoughts.
If your anxiety gets too overwhelming then additional support like counselling or support groups is strongly suggested.
When plans change or a situation doesn't pan out as we expected, we can feel down as a result. Maybe you had a holiday planned and had to cancel it. Or perhaps you were planning on buying a house and now you’re out of a job. These kinds of situations are disappointing, and a period of low mood is expected.
When you’re feeling low, sometimes it’s helpful to try and focus your energy on what you can do. Perhaps you have more time than you did before? Maybe you can start that project you have been putting off? Redirecting your focus can help shift feelings of sadness and help you move into a happier mood.
Feeling depressed now and then is okay, but when depression starts 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.
Society doesn't allow us time to sit in the middle phase of transitions. We want to get it over with.
But the middle phase is when we learn the most. It’s a great time for reflection and growth.
Through your time of transition, take the time to ask yourself these questions:
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 kinds of questions will help you find meaning in your transition and show you opportunities for positive change.
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 the other side with more wisdom and insight than ever before.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by your thoughts or feelings? I offer free 30-minute online consultations. Book your session here.