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5 Tips for Healthily Navigating a Big Life Change

Are you considering a significant life change? It can be daunting whether it's moving, starting a new job, or getting married. You can't help but feel uncertain and anxious.

But just because change can be scary doesn't mean it's not worth it. In fact, many times, making a big change in your life can be the best thing you ever do. It can lead to new opportunities, experiences, and growth.

So, if you're feeling scared but also excited about a momentous life change on the horizon, here are five tips for healthily navigating it.

Give Yourself Time to Adjust

Any time you make a life-altering change, it will take some time to adjust. So, avoid putting pressure on yourself immediately to feel comfortable with the difference. Instead, give yourself some time to get used to it.

If you're moving to a new city, take a few months to settle in and get to know the area. If you're starting a new job, take time to learn the ropes and get used to your new workplace. If you're going through a divorce or the death of a loved one, take some time to grieve and process what's happened.

Allowing yourself time to adjust will help you transition more smoothly and feel more confident about the change. After all, rushing the adjustment period will only lead to frustration. So, don't beat yourself up if you have a few bad days here and there.

Here are other benefits of giving yourself time to adjust:

  • You'll be able to ease into the change instead of feeling overwhelmed by it.
  • You can take time to learn new things and get used to your new surroundings.
  • You'll have time to establish a support system of friends or family members who can help you during this time.

Remembering that it's okay to feel sad, scared, or anxious during this transition is essential. These feelings are part of the process, and you need to handle them better. Remember that this part is also tricky. You might feel great, followed by a few tough days.

For instance, you might be having a great day at your new job and suddenly feel homesick. Or you might feel confident about your divorce. Then, you run into your ex and feel completely heartbroken all over again.

These emotional ups and downs could make you feel like you're not making progress. They might even bring forth doubt about whether or not you can handle the change. But it's important to trust the process and know these emotions are normal.

So ride it out and go back to the basics: give yourself time to adjust, accept your emotions, and be patient with yourself. From there, you can navigate this fundamental life change healthily and confidently.

Bonus Tip: Keeping a journal is an excellent technique to help you through this time. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be therapeutic and help you make sense of what you're going through.

Don't Try to Do Too Much at Once

Trying to do too much at once when you're amidst a drastic life change can be tempting. You might feel forced to overhaul your entire life and simultaneously make dozens of changes. But that's usually not necessary, nor is it healthy.

You see, trying to do too much at once can be overwhelming. It can even lead to burnout. 

Consider this scenario: you're about to get married. Suddenly, you decide to start a new business, move to a new city, and lose 20 pounds. What's more, you want to do all these things in the next three months.

You can guess what happens next. You end up feeling stressed, exhausted, and like you're not doing any of these things well. Plus, you might resent all your changes, making it even harder to stick to your goals.

So, instead of trying to do everything at once, focus on one or two things. Make a list of all the changes you want to make, and then prioritize them. Start with the most significant differences or the ones that will have the biggest impact on your life.

Taking things one step at a time will make you more likely to succeed and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Here are other advantages of not trying to do too much at once:

  • You will be able to give each change the attention it deserves.
  • You won't have to rely on others as much to help you with each change.
  • You will be able to enjoy the process more.
  • Less stress and anxiety.

So, take things one step at a time and be present in each moment. You want to enjoy the change instead of focusing on what's next.

Bonus Tip: If you have trouble focusing on one thing at a time, try using the Pomodoro Technique. It is a time management strategy that helps break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones to help you stay focused.

Create a Support System

One of the most important things you can do when navigating an immense life change is to create a supportive network. Your friends, family, or even a professional support group can make this up. Whoever you choose to include in your network, make sure that they are people who will be understanding, positive, and helpful during this time.

University at Buffalo's School of Social Work says there are four main benefits to having a supportive network:

  • Better well-being and health and longer lives.
  • Earlier detection of stress and anxiety
  • Free guidance, advice, and suggestions about practical matters
  • Stronger emotional resilience

So, if you're stressed about an enormous life change, reach out to your support system. These people will be there to help you through it. Talk to them about your feelings, listen to their advice, and let them help you navigate this change.

But remember that this type of relationship is a two-way street. Just as your support system should be there for you, you should also be there for them. But how do you do that if you're going through a change? Here are some ideas:

  • Be available to talk when they need to vent or want to chat.
  • Try to see things from their perspective.
  • Accept help when they offer it.
  • Be understanding if they get overwhelmed.
  • Stay in touch, even if you're busy.
  • Keep them updated on your progress.
  • Vocalize your appreciation for their support.
  • Be honest about your struggles.

Developing and maintaining a supportive network is critical to healthily navigating a big life change. These people will help you through the tough times and be there to celebrate the good ones.

Bonus Tip: If you don't have a support system, try to create one. Join a local meetup group or online community related to your change to have access to people who are going through or have been through a similar experience. 

Keep an Open Mind

Another great way to healthily navigate a meaningful life change is to keep an open mind. After all, change can be scary but invigorating. So, keep yourself open to the possibilities this change could bring.

If you're moving to a new city, be open to making new friends and exploring all the city offers. And if you're starting a new job, be open to the idea of learning new things and advancing in your career.

You can also go outside your comfort zone during this time of change. Try new things, meet new people, and explore new places. Doing so will help you make the most of this time and could lead to great experiences.

But here's the question—how do scared or anxious people keep an open mind when facing a life-altering life change? Consider some helpful advice below. :

  • Use positive affirmations. These are statements you repeat to yourself that aid in changing your mindset. For example, if you're moving to a new city, you might tell yourself, "I'm excited to meet new people and explore this city." Repeating these affirmations to yourself will help you stay positive and open-minded during this time of change.
  • Practice mindfulness. It is the method of being present in the moment and accepting things as they are. Mindfulness can be helpful during a time of change because it allows you to focus on the present and let go of any worries or fears about the future.
  • Stay flexible. It means you're willing to adjust your plans if things don't go how you want them to. For instance, if you're moving to a new city and your housing plans fall through, you'll need to be flexible and willing to look for other options.

Change can be challenging, but if you keep an open mind, you'll be more likely to navigate it healthily and come out the other side a stronger, better, and happier person.

Bonus Tip: If you're struggling to keep an open mind, try thinking about all the good that could come from this change. Write down a list of all the possibilities, no matter how extensive or small. 

Create and Normalize a Routine

A routine can be a lifesaver during significant life changes. It gives you a sense of normalcy and helps ground you when everything else is in flux. Try to establish a routine for yourself, even if it's just small things like taking a walk every day or making time for a hobby.

For example, if you've just retired, establish a morning routine as soon as possible. It could include making your bed, eating breakfast, and going for a walk. If you're starting a new job, try establishing a routine at work as soon as possible. It could involve setting regular hours, taking breaks, and eating lunch simultaneously each day.

Making and sticking to a routine can help you feel more in control during times of change. It can also help to provide some much-needed structure and predictability. Otherwise, change can feel overwhelming and chaotic.

Here are a few tips for creating and sticking to a routine:

  • Start small. If you need to get used to having a routine, start with just one or two things. For instance, you could commit to walking for 30 minutes every day or taking a break from work at the same time each day.
  • Be consistent. Once you've established a routine, stick to it as much as possible. It means getting up at the same time each day, even on weekends, and not skipping your walks or breaks just because you're feeling lazy.
  • Make adjustments as needed. If your routine isn't working or is proving too challenging to maintain, make adjustments as needed. For example, you could walk for 20 minutes instead of 30 or take a break at a different time of day.

Bonus Tip: Write down your routine or put it in your calendar so you're less likely to forget or skip it. Having a visual reminder can be helpful.

Moving Forward

Making an extensive life change can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. You can follow these five tips to make the transition as smooth and healthy as possible to hit the ground running in your new life.

If you're struggling to keep an open mind, get in touch with us at Jackson House for help. Our team of professional counselors can provide you with the support and guidance you need to navigate big life changes. Contact us today to learn more.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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