5 Ways to Cope With Anxiety About Life Transitions
Whether you’re graduating from school, entering the workforce, or navigating changes in your friendships and romantic relationships, life transitions can often feel overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. If you tend to feel anxious about big life transitions, here are five ways to make those changes feel a bit more manageable.
1. Try to keep your focus on today instead of worrying about far-away life transitions.
If the transitions in your life are expected, it may be tempting to ruminate on them until they arrive. However, fixating on a life transition you know is months out may end up increasing your anxiety instead of alleviating your worries. If you’re worried about coping with the changes that come with a big life milestone, take your worries day by day. Confront anything you need to do now to prepare, but leave the rest for later. When you focus on what you can do today instead of grouping together months’ worth of fears, you may feel better able to cope with the life transition when it arrives.
2. Think about similar life transitions that have gone well.
Life is always changing, even if the last time you experienced a significant transition was a long time ago. And if you’re anxious about major life changes, you can use this constant change to your advantage. If you’ve experienced a similar transition in the past and seen it go well, think about your fears the last time your life changed — and how many of them you could eventually alleviate. If you successfully settled into high school after graduating from middle school or confronted your insecurities as you started a new relationship, use your experiences as proof that your life transition might actually enrich your life. When you remember you’ve been successful at navigating transitions in the past, the upcoming ones may not feel quite as scary.
3. Map out what you might be able to expect from the life transitions that make you anxious.
If you haven’t experienced certain life transitions before but know people who have, ask them how they handled the changes and scope out what you might be able to expect your life transition to look like. Talking to people who’ve been through their first year of college or who’ve adjusted to a new job, new marriage, or new baby can help you anticipate potential pitfalls so you can develop ways to cope with them in advance. Don’t be afraid to ask about the good parts of your transition too — you may feel better if you know your upcoming life event isn’t so scary after all. Reaching out to people who’ve “been there, done that” can alleviate your fear of the unexpected, help you come up with coping skills, and remind you the life transition you may be dreading might not actually be so bad after all.
4. Lean on people in similar life transitions for support.
While connecting with people who’ve experienced your upcoming life transition can feel comforting, reaching out to friends or loved ones who are currently navigating the same transition can help you validate all of your emotions. Even your friends who look like they “have it all together” might be just as afraid as you are about those upcoming life milestones. Connecting with friends you know you can be open and honest with might allow them to share their fear and excitement with you, which can help remind you that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Together, you and your friends in similar situations can bond over your shared emotions, cope with your anxiety, and remind each other your feelings about this transition are completely natural.
5. Seek out professional help to mitigate your anxiety about life transitions.
You may feel like therapy is just for people who live with mental illnesses or need to process trauma, but it can be especially beneficial to people who are on the verge of major life transitions. A supportive therapist can help you process and cope with the emotions surrounding your life transition and may give you insights you may not uncover on your own. If you are able to meet with a therapist regularly prior to the life transition that’s currently making you anxious, they can support you at every step along the way. Your therapist may even help you change your perspective about transitions — and remind you that you’re capable of succeeding in new experiences and settings. Once you’ve established a relationship with a therapist, they can continue to help you as you actively move through your life transition — and give you the unconditional support you may crave.
Unsplash image by Holly Mandarich