The end of one year and the beginning of another is a time of change and transition. No, the sentence you just read isn’t repetitious; like two sides of the same coin, change and transition are two related but different things.
Change is what happens to you. It’s external and situational – like changing jobs, getting married or divorced, moving to a new home, having a baby or losing a loved one.
Transition is what you do about it, how you adjust to change, both emotionally and psychologically. Transitions start when changes end, as you let go of the old reality and start building a new beginning.
Changes – even changes for the better – are hard on you. They make you let go of something familiar and move towards something uncertain. Even changes you’ve thoroughly planned for are stressful. Some of the stresses are emotional, like feelings of vulnerability, anxiety, uncertainty. But many others are physiological: Muscle tension, body aches and pains, headaches, higher blood pressure, disturbed eating and sleeping patterns, poor concentration, fatigue and loss of energy.
Aging brings its own set of changes. And while you can’t necessarily avoid them, you can take advantage of these five steps to ease the transitions:
Know what you can handle – Different people can handle different stress levels, so understand and respect your limitations. (You can’t control the wind, but you can set the sail.) Plan for each change, and take it as slowly as you need for your physical and emotional health. And limit the number of changes you take on. Spreading out changes over time reduces the stress at any one time.
Reach out to your support system – We all want to be strong, independent and self-reliant. But needing support during times of transition isn’t a sign of weakness. So permit yourself to grieve negative changes that occur and to reach out to the people in your life who can emotionally support you during times of change. (And if there are gaps in in your support system, why not contact us for a free 30-minute consultation?)
Take your time – Give yourself time to adjust; rushing the transition with unrealistic expectations will only add stresses to an already stressful situation. Mentally step back and look at the big picture; realize what you can control and what you can’t. And learn to recognize and take advantage of unexpected opportunities – especially those you hadn’t planned for.
Don’t look for the black lining in the silver cloud – Obsessing on every single what-if that could possibly go wrong crowds out your ability to think of anything else. It can erode your mental and, eventually, your physical health. Try journaling to set aside those thoughts and lay them to rest.
Take good care of yourself – Keep eating well, walking, and exercising, because when you keep up healthy habits, you make yourself better equipped mentally and physically to cope with like’s more challenging issues.
Best wishes for a happy 2018, in which your changes are positive and your transitions brief and easy.