Adjusting to change can be difficult, as even positive life transitions tend to cause some stress. Over the course of a lifetime, a person can expect to experience a significant amount of change. Life transitions like marriage, the birth of a baby, moving to a new home, a child going to college or moving on to adulthood, are generally positive, although they may be accompanied by their own unique stressors. Some life transitions are difficult and also stressful, like a difficult diagnosis, the death of a loved one, job loss or choices around growing older. In any case, anxiety can accompany these transitions, and sometimes depression, grief and other mental health issues. Talking with a professional counselor is helpful in navigating any life transition.
Coping with Change
Because change can cause stress, it can have an effect on one’s daily life. A person facing a big change might, for example, experience depression, anxiety or fatigue; have headaches; develop trouble sleeping or eating well; or abuse drugs and alcohol. Persistent symptoms of stress might improve with treatment in therapy, but an individual may also be able to prevent some of these symptoms by:
- Researching an upcoming change. Often, stress can develop out of fear of what is unknown. When one is well-informed about a change, it may be easier to face.
- Attending to one’s physical and mental health. Being healthy in mind and body may make it easier to cope with changes in life. Sleeping well, exercising, and eating nutritional foods regularly may all be beneficial in improving both physical and mental health.
- Taking time to relax. Remaining calm in spite of stress may be easier when one’s life is well-adjusted and includes time for leisure as well as work.
- Limiting change. It may be helpful to avoid making a large change immediately after another change. Generally, adjusting to a change takes some time, and making multiple changes at once, even smaller ones, may not allow enough time for an adequate adjustment period, which can cause stress.
- Discussing any difficulties adapting with another person. Family members may be able to help one adjust to change, but professional help may also benefit those experiencing difficulty or stress as a result of life changes.