Do you remember watching those cartoons where the kids were in the back of the car screaming, “Are we there yet?!” This phrase can be the root of several emotions. We can all feel anxious, frustrated, or sad at times. Sometimes just sitting in the feeling makes you want to be on the other side already. This can be especially true with big life changes that we are looking forward to or dreading. Major life transitions can be stressful! Graduation, moving, getting married, getting divorced, getting a new job or leaving an old one, a loved one passing away, or even having a child. When it is a transition we aren’t looking forward to, it is easier to identify the anxiety towards it. Many times we feel that if we are looking forward to the change, that it is a good thing and therefore free of stress. Unfortunately, there is also “good stress”. Stress is stress, whether good or bad, and both can have an affect on how we feel. If we can be more aware of the stress and why we are feeling it, the situation can feel more manageable. So let’s look at ways ways to identify that stress and cope with it:
1. Be honest with yourself. It can be easier to just ignore that the change is an option, or is happening. It is okay to put it aside until you are ready to think about it, but let yourself feel what you are feeling. We are human – so feelings can’t be put aside. If you are nervous for this change, and notice you are more short towards a partner or friend, give yourself the space to be nervous. Let them know how you are feeling, even if you don’t want to get into a long conversation about it.
2. Notice if you are acting out of character. This is always a good sign that something more is going on and we are feeling more stress than we anticipated we would. It can be easier to misplace the feeling onto something or someone that feels more safe.
3. Make sure that you are taking time to do things for yourself. Often times when we get busy with transitions, and life in general, we cut out the things that we do for ourselves first. In reality, when things are busy, that is when you need to include those things for yourself the most. If you don’t, you can get more off balance. Outlets, such as hobbies, exercise, and other things we enjoy, give us the space we need to decompress and remember what it is like to feel something different from the intense emotion that was consuming us.
4. Accept where you are. Sometimes we don’t want to be patient. We want to be where we want to be already. It can be frustrating to be sitting in uncomfortable emotions for long periods of time. But if we are constantly looking towards the future, we get caught up in it and forget to live in the right now. Life can go by so quickly as it is. Don’t rush where you are right now. Just be in it. Easier said than done, I know. No one wants to sit in their sadness because they just lost their favorite pet. But you have to admit (maybe not right now if you are in it, but later on), it can make you really appreciate the time you had to make those memories and be able to miss that pet so much.
If you’re looking for more specific tools on how to work through the change, you can check out my blog on “How To Deal With Big Changes in Your Life” at: https://www.alisonsilviuslmft.net/single-post/2016/05/08/How-to-deal-with-big-changes-in-your-life.