Coping with Big Life Changes

Life is constantly throwing challenges at us, sometimes big, sometimes small. One of the biggest challenges in life is dealing with an important change. All big changes in life, whether they are expected and predictable, or sudden and shocking, have one thing in common, they cause stress. Human beings are naturally resistant to change, and so fatigue, stress and a degree of anxiety come with any big life change. Sometimes, coping with change can become very difficult and it becomes necessary to seek professional counselling.

Change can throw up myriad negative emotions, even when the change is welcome. An unwelcome or sudden change can cause an even greater degree of anxiety and fear. The fear of the unknown is a natural human trait, and big change always involves stepping into the unknown. Rather than keeping your feelings to yourself, it is important to talk to someone about what you feel. Simply talking to someone about our feelings and insecurities at a difficult time can be very useful and counselling involves doing this in an open and non judgemental way with a professional therapist.

It is OK to feel the way you feel

Change is often inevitable, and resisting it only increases the difficulty faced in coping with it. When faced with a life changing situation, the first natural impulse is to resist and deny it. Bottling up the emotions associated with the change and simply trying to resist it can prolong the pain and affect life in other ways. What is needed at a time like this is someone to guide you through the process and to help you learn ways of coping with the change at your own pace.

Coping with a big life change involves taking small steps. An important step is to break tasks down into small and manageable chunks so as to accomplish what needs to be done without getting overwhelmed. It is also important when faced with a life changing situation not to get pressured. There is often societal pressure on an individual to deal with something in a certain way. It is important to take things at one’s own pace, and to react to things the way one really feels. Counselling can help one understand and accept that there is no ‘right way’ to react to a stressful situation and cope in their own way.

Finding support to help you through the journey

Human beings are emotional creatures, and creatures of habit. The mind as well as the body needs time to cope with the change. Whether it is a move to a different city, a divorce, or loss of a loved one, a big change leaves a void in the mind which needs time to heal. Counselling and therapy can be effective in dealing with the mental and physical fatigue that change can cause as they allow one to cope with their personal challenge at their own pace, while providing one with the coping tools required to face the change.

It is natural for our limitations and insecurities to rise to the surface when faced with any challenging situation – and a big change is also a big challenge. In case of a life changing situation such as the end of a significant relationship or losing a job, strong feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may be felt. Therapy and counselling can help deal with these negative emotions.

An important factor in facing a big change such as bereavement, divorce, loss of employment etc. is that strong feelings of being cornered and alone can arise. Knowing that there are other people going through similar experiences can be a big support at a time like this. Group counselling and therapy can be especially useful in coping with a big life change as one is able to learn from and provide support to other people also going through similar experiences and coping with similar challenges.

Whether it is a change that causes grief and pain or a welcome change, the fact is that big change is daunting and causes us to resist it. Adjusting to the change and dealing with the emotions it brings can be very challenging and it is important to acknowledge it and give ourselves the time and space needed to cope. Outside help such as group therapy and counselling should be sought as they can provide guidance on how best to cope and heal.

Images on Creative Commons license courtesy of WolfS♡ul, WealthOfHealth4, Alan Cleaver

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