Life transitions are those times in our lives when we experience major upheaval in one or more areas of our life.  With upheaval, we may experience anxiety as well.  In this blog, we’ll discuss tips to manage anxiety while adjusting to a life transition.

Life Transitions Are Big Changes

Sure, we all expect change throughout our lifetime.  However, when and how a life transition occurs in our life matters.

Some transitions are ones we seek such as changing jobs, or getting married.  We typically experience these changes positively because we desired them, planned for them, and pursued them.  Other transitions may be unplanned and unwelcomed change such as being laid off from work or a death of a loved one.  These transitions can leave us feeling shocked and propel us into grief, anger, sadness, and uncertainty.

Consider the life transition you’re experiencing.  Is it one you desired?  Or is it a transition you had no say in?  Perhaps it’s a transition you thought you wanted, but now find yourself feeling unsure of.  Or maybe your experience with a transition is not what you expected.  Sometimes, we experience multiple life transitions simultaneously which strains our ability to adjust to all the changes occurring.

Common Life Transitions

  • job or career change
  • birth
  • parenting a new developmental stage (for ex: newborn, adolescent, young adult)
  • death
  • moving
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • break-up
  • empty nest
  • adjustment to college or work place
  • retirement
  • new relationship
  • questioning gender or identity
  • financial gain or loss

Why Are Life Transitions So Anxiety Provoking?

Because life transitions often push us into experiences we’ve never had before, feelings of fear, sadness, overwhelm, and uncertainty are common.  However, for some of us, life transitions can signal danger or threat to our nervous systems and we can find ourselves experiencing symptoms of anxiety.

Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • feeling of panic or dread
  • difficulty eating and sleeping
  • trouble relaxing
  • tension in the body
  • headaches and stomach aches
  • increased heart rate
  • rapid and shallow breathing
  • tightness in the chest
  • racing thoughts
  • catastrophizing thoughts
  • preoccupation with worry thoughts
  • feeling restless and nervous
  • inability to concentrate

How Do I Manage Anxiety Through a Life Transition?

There are several strategies you may practice to manage anxiety while experiencing a life transition.  The key here is practice.  Most of the strategies you may try take time to get the hang of and to have the desired effect.  With that in mind, here are some techniques for calming your body and your mind:

  • Deep belly breaths: While inhaling through your nose, imagine you’re inflating and deflating a balloon in your belly as you breathe in and out. Try counting to extend your exhales longer than your inhales initially, and after 2 minutes or so, even out your exhale count to match your inhale count.
  • Get moving: take a walk, hit the gym, or go to an exercise class. Movement after stress is a way we can close out the stress cycle which tells our body the danger is gone.
  • Focus on what you can control: get into a routine, engage in enjoyable activities, plan time off from responsibilities.
  • Spend time with loved ones: turn to your support system and let them know what’s going on for you.

Successfully Navigate Anxiety Through Life Transitions

Practicing skills to manage anxiety can bring relief.  However, for some of us, we can benefit from professional support.

One of the most common reasons people seek therapy is for anxiety treatment.  Therapy is a productive and tailored experience, designed to help you work towards your goals with a trained professional.

At Vitality Therapeutic Services, we specialize in life transitions and anxiety treatment.   We recognize the challenges inherent in life transitions, especially with anxiety.  We also believe life transitions are an opportunity to create a new chapter in your life, and we’d love to support you in creating yours.  Contact us today if you’re ready to get started.

Photo by Gelgas Airlangga: