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Creating a new ‘Normal’: Tips for Navigating Life Transitions

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By Kristin Garrity , MS Licensed Professional CounselorKristenStenzel

Change is inevitable.

Sometimes the changes we face are welcome and joyous, such as graduating, getting married, having a new baby, receiving a promotion or moving to a new house. We feel excited about the possibilities ahead and look forward to the positive changes these events will bring to our lives.

However, changes we don’t want or didn’t ask for often come our way as well. Divorce, losing a job, sudden illness or injury, the loss of a loved one, etc.… These changes can leave us feeling understandably angry, anxious and depressed.

Regardless of the circumstances, navigating any kind of life transition often causes us to feel like a fish out of water. It leaves us in an awkward emotional place that demands us to respond in new ways and possibly even adapt to a different way of life. We often long for the way things used to be.

Here are some tips for navigating these unfamiliar times and creating a new “normal.”

Acknowledge the change
Be honest with yourself about how the change affects your daily life, old patterns and routines. When we are unable to rely on our former expectations or daily routines, it can leave us feeling unstable and overwhelmed. Fighting the changes that occur in our lives can cause greater frustration and keep us from adapting to its new aspects.

Expect to feel
Any life change, whether wanted or unwanted, leaves us with many conflicting emotions. A new baby is a joyful and exciting addition to life, but can also make new parents feel anxious and overwhelmed until settling in to new routines and ways of life with the child.

Feelings of anxiety, depression and anger are common when adapting to life changes. Additionally, it is natural to have feelings of grief and loss as we move forward in life and leave things behind. It’s healthy to feel all of the feelings that occur with any of these changes. Even so, it’s important to move through these emotions and not get “stuck” in the anger, anxiety or depression for too long.

Listen to your body
Navigating any change can be stressful and impact us physically and emotionally. Make sure to get proper rest, nutrition and exercise; this can be a great way to lay a healthy foundation.

Knowing when it’s time to take a break, do something fun or go out with friends can give us balance when stuck in a place of uncertainty. Having realistic expectations and timeframes for the transitions can serve as a reminder to take it one day at a time.

Look for new opportunities
When it feels like life has been flipped upside down and is no longer recognizable, it is easy to look only at the loss or the negative aspects of the change. However, these times of transition can also be great opportunities to explore new things in your life.

Times of change are a great chance to meet different people, try new things, use your skills in a unique way or step back and re-prioritize your life. Whatever the case may be, looking for the new opportunities can help the makeover of your life be positive.

Get Support
It’s hard to do it all alone. Leaning on others can give the moral support you need to feel more grounded and to move on from the change.

Friends, family or a professional can help support you during this time of upheaval. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; be specific with what you need and how you can be best supported during this time. If you feel stuck in the loss, anger, anxiety or depression that comes with life changes, find a counselor or other professional who can help you with the emotional stress of moving on.

Letting go of the old and embracing the new in life transitions can be hard. At times, it may feel like things will never be normal again. While the circumstances are often different, doing the hard work of letting go and moving on can bring about positive results with time.

Getting support and looking for opportunities in these times can provide us with the ability to grow in previously unimaginable ways. Finally, it’s important to be patient and remember this season of life will not last forever. The changes we struggle with today eventually will become new routines that will lead to a new “normal.”

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