Facing a Stressful Transition? Here are 10 Tips to Help You Get Through It Successfully
There are changes and there are transitions. Then you have stressful transitions—the kind of life shift (positive, negative, or both) that requires your full attention. This isn’t about unexpected curveballs. Rather, you can see this “stressful transition” coming just around the corner. You may have even set it in motion. But, no matter what, it’s got a lot of moving parts and will involve plenty of adjustments.
A few examples of stressful transitions
- Changing jobs or careers
- Losing a job/unemployed
- Starting a business
- Moving or relocating
- Getting married/moving in together
- Getting separated/divorced
- Becoming a parent (birth, adoption, by marriage, etc.)
- An adult child moving out or moving away
- Loss of an important relationship
- Major lifestyle change (health crisis, required diet changes, and so on)
- Deciding to become sober
- When the death of a loved one is near
This far from complete list gives you an idea of the scope of transitions I am talking about here. These transitions can touch you in so many ways. They involve plenty of preparation. In addition, they require flexibility within the process.
10 Tips to Help You Get Through a Stressful Transition
1. Develop the best version of you (physically)
Athletes train to prepare to compete and soldiers go through basic training. If you know your life is about to become challenging, start with self-care. This means healthy eating habits, regular sleep routines, deliberate time for fun, getting a massage, and plenty of exercise/activity.
2. Develop the best version of you (emotionally)
Self-loving choices go beyond the physical body. Develop some form of stress management routine that feels both comfortable and emotionally recharging. Call friends and family for support. Listen to your favorite music or briefly escape with a book on tape. Integrating mind and body with a yoga class or guided meditation. Many yoga studios have a lower cost community class on a Sunday.
3. Stay open to on-the-go adjustments
You know what they say about the “best-laid plans?” No matter how carefully your project or transition is planned, something may still go wrong with it. The key to a smooth transition is keeping an open mind to all of the unexpected things that just may happen. Keep the process fluid and remember that it is still evolving.
4. Practice mindfulness
As the transition commences, you may be tempted to express regret. You’ll want to go back to the past and remember what you did, didn’t do, or should have done. Or you may experience feelings of anxiety about how you perceive your future as it unfolds. Mindfulness breathing and mental awareness of all that you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing will bring you back to the present moment and out of the past or future.
5. Develop or Practice your patience
Patience is not easy and may be lacking at times during a transition, especially a stressful one! “Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength. ~ Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton Regardless of progress (or lack thereof), cut yourself some slack. Predetermined schedules or deadlines are important but not if they convince you to rush things before they’re ready.
6. If you set this transition in motion, remember why
Let’s say you opt to relocate and then the process gets tricky. Remind yourself why you decided to move. Get back into the excited mindset that started all this before making rash decisions.
7. Lean on your support team
Friends, family, partner, co-workers, neighbors, and more—take the support wherever you can find it. Remember, the first step towards getting help is to ask for it. Do not rely on the mind-reading skills of others.
8. Take breaks
A stressful transition may just dominate your life at times. It will be more successful, though, if you continue to seek your definition of balance. Give yourself breaks from the process. Give yourself time to rest and relax. Remember to add some fun, even if it is just a brief break.
9. Document the process
Keep a journal. How did you grow from this experience? What did you learn about yourself during this transition? What personal strengths did you rely on or learn about as you went through this process? We grow and change the most during a transition and documenting the experience may give you some insightful information to ponder.
10. Reject perfectionism
Success is better than perfection. Envision a finished product but don’t grow too attached to it. Perfectionist standards are often unreasonable and thus stressful on your overall well-being and happiness. Sometimes, perfectionism may lead to putting off important tasks or scheduled goals because of an intense fear of failure. Perfectionism may also occur because of your overwhelming anticipation that others will disapprove. No matter the reason, perfectionism adds additional stress to the already stressful, life transition.
Create a Transition Team
Like any other effort or challenge, a stressful transition benefits from collaboration. Yes, your support system of friends and family is crucial. But this may also be an ideal time to seek professional therapy. One-on-one counseling is your safe space and your strategy center. You can talk about your concerns and fears. But you may also assess your progress, spring forward and create new plans or ideas. Your therapist will be a mentor and a sounding board.