Change is an inevitable part of life. Even good changes like getting married or graduating with a degree can provoke a range of feelings. Fear, anxiety, frustration and sadness are all perfectly normal reactions to major life changes—but you don’t have to feel that way forever.
Once you’ve acknowledged that a major life change is in the works, you can take the necessary steps to navigate those rough waters with confidence. Because these changes can feel overwhelming, you’ll want to develop a few coping mechanisms to remain calm and reframe your thoughts to focus on the positives ahead.
Theses seven tips can help you overcome transitional periods with a more positive outlook.
- Regain self-control: You can’t control people’s actions or all the events that happen in life. What you can control is how you react to it all. Instead of blaming others or focusing on the uncontrollable, view change as an opportunity to grow. Think about what you’ve learned from the current situation and how this newfound knowledge can serve you in the future. Looking at change from a different perspective can restore a sense of self-control that gives you the confidence to move forward.
- Process your feelings: Change puts you through a whirlwind of emotions. Everyone reacts to change differently, so try not to compare your experience to others or suppress your feelings. Give yourself space to feel whatever it is you’re feeling—anger, depression, resentment, grief, maybe a little bit of happiness, too! Acknowledging how you feel is the first step towards overcoming a difficult situation. Writing in a journal and speaking to friends can help process those emotions once you’ve identified them.
- Get proactive: Venting about how you feel can help you find some release, but you shouldn’t dwell in negativity for too long. Take hold of your life and seek ways to cope with this transitional period. Problem solve with friends and family and ask yourself what you can do to navigate this time of change in a healthy way. Recognize when you need professional help and potentially take the steps to find a therapist who specializes in what you’re going through.
- Rely on routine: Major life changes can turn our world upside down. Everything feels different, and all you want is a sense of normalcy. As you navigate these difficult times, establish a consistent daily routine that makes you feel secure. Focus on the simple pleasures that happen every day, like watching the sun rise with a cup of coffee or playing fetch with your dog. These activities give you a break from the change and help you realize that many things in your life are still the same.
- Try fun exercises: Moving your body can completely transform your mood. Exercise won’t make your problems disappear, but the feel-good endorphins that come from it will increase your resilience in stressful situations. The activity can be anything you want, as long as you build it into a consistent exercise schedule. Working out just twice per week is associated with a slew of health benefits, both physical and mental. You don’t have to exercise alone, either—invite your friends to join the fun!
- Remember your goals: Grief, frustration and sadness can leave you feeling like you’re stuck in a rut. After taking time to process your emotions, reflect on how you can make the most out of this major change. Life is all about moving forward, and you have the power to pursue your goals despite your current circumstances. Having an idea of what you want to achieve in life can build resilience in the face of adversity.
- Accept your situation: The only way out of an uncomfortable situation is to plow straight through. True healing comes to people who’ve accepted change, no matter how unpleasant it may be. Remember that change is a normal part of life, and you’ll be much happier once you make it to the other side. Make peace with what’s happening in the world around you, and all those negative feelings will soon pass. As cheesy as it may sound, the saying holds true—go with the flow!
As you navigate this major life change, remember that you’re not alone. More people than you probably realize have experienced what you’re currently going through. Open up to friends and family, and you’ll soon discover the people who love you are more than happy to help in any way they can. Remember that the storm will blow over and sunnier days are ahead.