August tends to bring lots of changes - perhaps you’re having a third quarter review at work, your kids are returning to school, or your vacation time is coming to an end. We adjust to our “almost the end of the year” mode - with only 4 months left in 2022, you may be feeling pressure to achieve certain goals you had for this year. Sometimes, these goals bring along big life changes, like moving into a new home or starting a new career.
What happens, though, if you’re having a hard time adjusting to a new, big change? Life transitions can be challenging for a number of reasons. Many transitions, like children leaving for college for the first time, represent a huge change in our lives. Other transitions, like having to pack up an entire house and unpack in a new one, can bring along intense stress. Finally, some changes are unexpected - if this is the time of year your work is making new decisions, you could find yourself promoted, demoted, fired, or with a raise - who knows!
If you find life transitions to be more stressful than exciting, try out these three tips to better adjust to big changes in your life.
Maintain a Schedule as Best You Can
It’s easier said than done, but maintaining a schedule is one way to help adjust to a big life change. Having a schedule can continue a sense of normalcy in your life, even when other things don’t feel normal. For example, you may make it standard to wake up at 7am every day and journal while drinking tea. This is a daily habit that you could carry through multiple life changes - a new home, kids going off to school, or a new role at work may not impact your ability to do this. Similarly, you may try to schedule things like game night with the family, a self-care Saturday, a workout, or even lunch at the same time, regardless of a life change.
One reason life transitions can be so nerve-wracking is our lack of knowing. By having a schedule you can be certain of and remain familiar to you is one way of maintaining that knowing aspect. If you know you’ll always have a family movie night once a month, that is just one more element of stability in a time of change.
Remember Your Social Support System
There’s no surprise that having a good social support system is beneficial for our mental health. When going through a big change, there’s a chance our social support system will shift as well; for example, if you’re moving, your previous neighbors may not be as accessible as they were before.
Though your social support system may look a little different, remember to reach out as much as possible! Even if your surroundings change, connecting with your support may just look a little different; instead of chatting in-person with them, you may be connecting via text message or phone call. Social support systems are also great when the kids go back to school or away to college; you likely have other parents going through the same loneliness period you could grab a coffee with.
Set Realistic Expectations
Realistic expectations are key to a smooth transition. Usually, we have a picture in our head of everything going perfectly: our college kids call us every day, nothing is damaged in the moving process, the new job is a perfect, flawless fit. However, anyone who goes through a big change knows: rarely does it all go according to plan!
Managing your expectations is one way to keep anxiety and stress down. By accepting things will go wrong, we may be less angered, surprised, or stressed when they do. Also, keep your goals in check: the boxes from moving are unlikely to be unpacked on day one, and you’ll likely make basic mistakes at your new job for many weeks, if not months. Give yourself room to grow.
We hope this blog helped give you some tools to add to your kit regarding big life changes! If the anxiety over transitions is too much, we’d be happy to help. Together, we can manage expectations and set goals for your life change. We can process what is making your life transition feel particularly hard. Reach out today to learn more about our mental health therapy services at Higher Life Pathways! We look forward to hearing from you!