Life transitions are universal and range from monumental (death of a loved one, getting married, empty nesting) to less earth-shattering (taking on a new project at work).
All can impact us significantly. Because our human brains love predictability, change is uncomfortable, even if it is welcome and for the best. Transitions can cause us to feel unsettled, scared, nervous, or unsure.
I had the pleasure of joining Karin Mallett and Bo Kotnow at WFMZ-TV for Self-Care Saturday at Sunrise to share some coping tools we can use when facing change.
Here are 5 Tips:
Name it to tame it.
It’s easy to get caught up in the doing and adjusting to change without noticing what we’re feeling emotionally. However, awareness is key.
When we label our emotions—I’m feeling sad, I’m feeling scared—it provides a bit of distance and we can view it more objectively. Only then can we choose how to respond or how to begin the process of coping.
Feel it to heal it.
It’s human nature to avoid what feels unpleasant. It can even be scary to go there. However, when we don’t take the time to feel, emotions affect us in all sorts of ways—Physically we might suffer with headaches or digestive issues. Behaviorally, we might scroll mindlessly through social media or overdo it with the wine.
Start feeling by noticing body sensations with curiosity. Is there heaviness in the chest? Tightness in the back? Lump in the throat? As best you can, notice and accept, rather than resist and tighten.
Place your hands on our chest and take a few deep breaths, which calms the stress response and releases oxytocin, the calming/connecting hormone. Then give yourself a mini-pep talk— I can handle this. I can do this. Because you can.
Search for the AND.
This is about looking for the good in the midst of the difficult because two opposing emotions can be true at the same time.
I am feeling sad about this change AND grateful for my good friend who supports me.
I am feeling nervous about the uncertainty AND I’ll keep reminding myself I am strong and will figure it out.
Take healthy action.
What about the situation is under your control? Taking even the smallest action steps prevent us from feeling stuck.
Recommit to helpful habits that keep you grounded, healthy, and happier. Move your body. Text a friend. Get outside.
Taking action is empowering, motivating, and a great coping tool.
Moving through a time of transition can’t be rushed. We need time and space to think, feel, reflect, and take useful action. What feels uncomfortable and overwhelming eventually becomes the new normal. There is no one right way and the process is not linear.
It’s helpful to remember that with change brings growth—the hope is that we learn to seek out new opportunities and embrace all that this new phase of life has to offer.