Life transitions are certain to happen, but we can move through them with more skill if we are prepared to handle them. They may encompass everything from moving, graduating, starting a new job, getting married, having kids, addressing mid-life changes, and entering retirement to name a few. Some life transitions are expected and welcomed whereas others are unexpected and stressful. Often, life transitions may fall somewhere in the middle of being exciting and/or stressful. Regardless of how you may feel about a life transition, a certain level of anxiety will probably be present as you venture into unfamiliar territory.
Anxiety is a normal reaction of worry or fear to uncertain or stressful situations. As humans, we enjoy feeling like we have fully explored our surroundings and that there is a level of predictability to what will happen in any given day. This understanding and predictability of life can be thought of as order. When we experience the opposite of order we experience, to varying degrees, chaos. Chaos can be described as unexplored territory. When considering our responses to life changes, it is no wonder that we feel anxious; we are in unexplored, chaotic territory!
How are we supposed to address the anxiety we experience in times of transition? When possible, identifying a support system is a good starting point. Whether friends, family, or even colleagues, having someone in your corner as you face the unknown can go a long way towards giving you the courage and confidence you need to navigate uncharted waters.
Taking time for self-care during life transitions is a must. Self-care consists of doing things that you enjoy that positively affect your mental, emotional, or physical health. We all have our own unique interests that positively affect us in a variety of ways. Engaging in self-care allows you to enjoy familiar activities and experiences during uncertain and stressful life transitions.
Lastly, as hard as it may be, show yourself compassion when a life transition occurs. Life transitions are challenging situations and they may leave you feeling like a hobbit venturing beyond the comforts of the Shire into the rest of Middle Earth for the first time. Even the most respected and successful people in society need time to adjust to new situations and make mistakes as they navigate those life situations. Showing yourself compassion in life transitions will allow you to give yourself room to make mistakes and take away unhelpful pressure that you place on yourself.
Michael is in the second and final year of the Master of Social Work program at St. Cloud State University. He received his undergraduate degrees from the University of South Dakota in Addiction Studies and Psychology. He also received a certificate in theology from Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. Read More