Major Changes in Life and How to Deal with Them
Major changes in life are a widespread occurrence that can cause disruption, stress, and upheaval. But throughout all of these changes in life, it is important to learn how to maintain your inner peace and tranquility to ride through the waves of difficulty with ease.
By Isabella Koepf / August 4, 2020
A Therapist’s Perspective on dealing with major changes in life…
Whilst we might be able to cognitively accept that life is a process of continual flux, it can be hard to accept major changes in life. Something in us craves the illusion of stability and constancy.
When sudden, dramatic, or major changes in life disrupt our equilibrium it can lead to anxiety, angst, and depression.
There’s a real art form in learning how to deal with change. Such wisdom is expressed concisely in John Henry Newman’s observation that: “to live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often”.
This blog provides strategies to help hone and develop the skills of going with the flow and adapting to the sorts of major changes in life that inevitably impact us all at some point.
When major changes in life occur for you, it may lead to a variety of both mental and physical health issues if left unchecked.
By using some of the tools described below, you can gain the skills to push through these times of difficulty and turn these major changes in life into a time of joy rather than a time of stress.
What are Major Changes in Life?
A major change in your life can be anything from moving houses to the birth of your first child. For every person, there are some critical changes in life that we all generally experience that can be particularly stressful periods.
Some of the most commonly encountered major changes in life are the onset of puberty, graduation from high school or college, marriage, the birth of a child, death, losing love, and more.
These events are signifiers of change and often bring about a lot of stress and worry about what comes next.
But by learning how to change your perspective and deal with these major changes in life in a positive way, you can start to shift your experience and turn these events into times of happiness and joy instead.
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The Effects of Major Changes in Life
Major changes in life often lead to psychological and physical health issues if they are not dealt with properly. When you undergo a major change in life, it can lead to depression, anxiety, insomnia, and even posttraumatic stress disorder if the event is more traumatic.
These mental impacts from major changes in life can then lead to issues in your physical health as well. The mind and body are intimately connected, so when you undergo a significant amount of mental strain, this leads to a substantial amount of physical strain as well. Some common impacts on physical health from major changes in life could be decreased cardiovascular health, increased blood pressure, decreased immunity, and more.
The primary effect of major changes in life on the body and mind come from the impacts of stress. When you experience prolonged mental stress, this leads to the release of the hormone cortisol in your bloodstream, which causes a variety of adverse effects on your physical health.
So, when these major changes in life leave a lasting impact on your mental health, your physical health will also be significantly affected as well. That is why it is essential to instill positive coping mechanisms before, during, and after these major changes in life to protect you from the various negative effects on your health.
How to Deal with Major Changes in Life
1. Practice Acceptance
The key to riding through any change in life is to practice acceptance and understand the uncertainty that comes with big changes. Trying to control the outcome of an event is not possible, particularly during major changes in life.
Life is always throwing curveballs, so having the ability to roll with the punches can be a saving grace in difficult times. But acceptance does not mean that you do absolutely nothing to help yourself in times of struggle.
As Reinhold Niebuhr says in the serenity prayer,
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
By understanding and imputing the practice of this prayer into your life, you can find the perfect balance between understanding and action to carry you through any major change in your life.
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2. Take Care of Your Physical Health
During times of change, it is especially important to take care of your physical health. As mentioned previously, the mind and body are intimately connected, so when you are undergoing significant amounts of stress during a major change in your life, this can have a substantial toll on your body.
Therefore, by making regular exercise and healthy eating a priority, this can give your body the fuel to power you through any difficulties your face. When you feel good, then you can think and act well too.
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3. Make a Proactive Plan
The other side of acceptance is to know when to take action by making plans and taking concrete steps to achieve and work through difficulty. A great way to take action in this way is by actually making a proactive plan when possible.
Of course, you cannot always plan for everything. But if possible, it can be beneficial to have a few critical things set up in advance to help ease your transition during any major change in life. By setting up a self-care system as well before the major change occurs, it will make it much easier to handle any other instances that arise.
4. Check-In with Yourself
Throughout any major change in life, it is essential to be continually checking in with yourself and meeting your needs as best as you can. Through major changes, it can be easy to get lost in the chaos of everything around you and disconnect with yourself.
But by checking in with yourself every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed, you can make a plan for how to take care of yourself throughout these chaotic times and invest in your mental and physical health.
5. Reach Out to Your Support System
The best way to get through any major changes in life is to rely on a support system when possible.
By reaching out to friends, family, or your significant other during these times, it can give you a feeling of outside support, and you may even push off some of the stress onto others if they are willing to help.
If needed, it can also be helpful to have the support of a mental health therapist as well to ease you through these changes in life with grace.
Major changes in life are extremely common and often unavoidable.
But it is essential to put some practices in place to deal with these times with greater ease and comfort.
So, if you are going through a major change in your life, then try to put some of the above practices in place to ease your transition and bring greater peace into any chaotic situation.
Claire Law is a UK-based Counsellor and Psychotherapist from Preston, Northern England. Claire became a therapist after a career of almost two decades of High School teaching experience. She’s also worked extensively in the Social Care and Charity Sectors, and as a Mental Health Advisor in Higher Education. Claire combines her current Psychotherapy practice with freelance writing on Mental Health, Wellbeing and Psychology topics. She has a passion for Social Justice and environmental causes.
Claire holds a degree from Nottingham University, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from Leeds Trinity University College and a Post Graduate Diploma in Integrative Psychotherapy from the University of Central Lancashire. She’s completed a wide range of extensive training and certifications in Domestic Abuse, Survivors of Sexual Abuse & Sexual Violence, Suicide and Self-Harm, Expressive Arts Therapy, Gender Variance, Online and Telephone Counselling and Polyvagal Regulation developed by Stephen Porges, a professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina and “Distinguished University Scientist” at Indiana University.