Stress and Coping: Managing Life’s Transitions

Life’s roadblocks can pop up at any time. While times of crisis can happen at any time for anyone, there are common transitions that can pose challenges for many people. From entering the teen years and then college…first jobs…first children…mid-life crises…retirement…these major life changes can be stressful to cope with if we don’t have the mechanisms to properly handle them.

Anxiety and depression can be spurred through events large and small in our lives. Sometimes the triggers are barely perceptible and happen over time. Some are huge, glaring changes that hit us in the face, such as divorce or the prospect of retiring after working for 50 years. How we cope with those stressors varies by person.

Psychology Today breaks it down for us when it comes to the basic premises of stress and coping:

  • First, there’s no such thing as an inherently hard life transition. All life events will be as stressful or as smooth as you make them. However, we go through life bracing ourselves for the next big stage, facing it with fear, when in reality not everyone will have a difficult time establishing their career just like not everyone will have a mid-life crisis of epic proportions.
  • Secondly, factors that influence life events reflect the many forces that can result in change. Aside from basic biological changes and our gene programming, no life change is guaranteed, pronounced or certain. What makes them so are the outside influences, from the social to the historical. For example, society tells us that in our 40s, we’ll undergo a mid-life crisis as we face reconciling our past with what we ultimately want for our future. This may be true for you, or it may not.

Bottom line is, there is nothing inherently bad about life transitions or about change in general. When we face changes, they are reflections of many factors. It’s how you interpret them that determines their impact.

Tips on Coping With Transition

Dealing with the stress and coping with life’s speed bumps comes with perspective. Check out these tips on how to more readily manage transitions – both expected and sudden.

  • View stress as a challenge, not a threat. If you believe the saying that “stress is in the mind of the beholder,” you will realize that any event you’re afraid of can be met with strength and power. Rather than let a particular life change overwhelm you, turn it into something you can rise above.
  • Appreciate change: Getting stuck in ruts throughout life is normal because nobody really likes change. However, it can harm your cognitive growth. When we switch up our routines, we stimulate our nervous systems so that new neural pathways are created.
  • Recall previous transitions. By remembering previous changes you’ve dealt with successfully, you can use that power to face the new challenge. Use it as a source of strength: you did it before, you can do it again!
  • Use your supports. Having a network of friends, co-workers and family can provide you with the social support you need to manage change effectively. Even an online community can give you a much-needed emotional boost, practical advice, and tips to get you through. Without external support, we tend to internalize our plight, where it can quickly consume us.

Contact Comprehensive MedPsych Systems

Comprehensive MedPsych Systems can help ease you through life’s big transitions with our qualified counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Please contact us today at an office location near you.

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