Autumn reminds us that transition can be both beautiful and hard. While the fall brings us breathtaking scenery as the leaves change colour, not everyone is excited about the weather getting colder and the days getting shorter. Life transitions are like that, too.
Whether it’s moving to a new city, or adult children moving out; a promotion that presents a new set of responsibilities, or the loss of a job; big changes can take their toll on our minds, emotions, energy level, and relationships.
The good news is, there are resources to handle these challenging times in our lives. Here are six that can help anyone going through a major transition.
1. Expect to feel unsettled and uncertain at first
Most change comes with a sense of loss if not actual loss. To move into something new, we had to leave some things behind, including a sense of security we get from a situation that is familiar. Grieving for the good aspects of what we left behind is a normal part of any major transition in life.
When left unchecked, our feelings of uncertainty and discomfort can affect the way we handle relationships and responsibilities in our lives. We might lose some sleep thinking about things, or snap at our kids, coworkers, or a loved one. Being aware of how the stress of transition is affecting our mind and mood can go a long way towards keeping our emotions in view and in check.
2. Accept and embrace the change
This is a new chapter of your life and that’s a big deal! As such, it probably feels a little scary. Even though some aspects of this new season are uncomfortable right now, we can still learn to accept our situation and acknowledge its reality. Embracing change can help us see things more clearly, preventing us from getting into a mental rut over what we wish would happen or think should happen.
3. Be curious and comforted about how God will work through this time of transition
With every change comes a fresh start, and a new opportunity to see God’s hand in the midst of it all. This is also a chance to re-frame the transition. How do you see God’s comfort, guidance, or affirmation through this experience? What are you learning as God walks with you?
4. Be patient with yourself
Change can be stressful, which means you may find yourself in an up-and-down state of mind. You will have some days where you feel affirmed in the new change and others when you regret a decision, or miss the way things were. That’s okay. It’s a natural part of the process of chance.
And change is a process. Usually, it takes longer than we expect or want before we reach a state of stability or normalcy (e.g. to feel confident in a new job, make new friends, or feel at home in a new place).
5. Take time for self care
It can be easy to stay in action or planning mode all the time. But pressing pause on all activity will ease stress while bringing about clarity and comfort. So, schedule some time throughout the week to shut off email, work, or the phone lines. Get out in nature, spend quiet time in prayer and meditation, grab lunch with a good friend. Engage in activities that make you feel centered and grounded.
6. Reach Out for Support
That support could come from a friend or loved one, a small group, or a professional counsellor or therapist. Find someone who will be there to listen, encourage, and provide the perspective of someone on the outside looking in.
A professional counsellor here at the Family Life Centre, Elizabeth Boom, put it this way:
“In some cases, when we’re struggling or feel overwhelmed, it helps to have supportive people around us to cheer us on in our successes and to help us find new ways to look at our situation. Counselling is a place where you can find help to grow, cope with transitions, and create strategies in finding new ways to think and live, and celebrate each new step.”
Amy Francis is a freelance writer and contributor at the Family Life Centre blog. www.amyhopefrancis.com