When we go through major life events – going to college, starting our first job, vying for and earning a promotion, marriage, starting a family – we are often filled with excitement and joy. Many of us dream of these life events for years, yet when they arrive, we can feel overwhelmed, nervous, scared and even, ambivalent. As much as we look forward to entering a new chapter or experiencing something new, we can still experience negative feelings and stress. While these events are most certainly positive, they are still changes to life as we know it. And as much as we may want it, we are naturally predisposed to resist change.
Life events, however, don’t have to be scary. A little planning, preparation and positive attitude can go a long way:
- Remind Yourself of Why: When you feel stressed or scared, remind yourself of why you’ve chosen the path you’ve taken. Reflect on your core values, your goals and your reasons for your choices. This will help you reestablish your choice as something you want, as opposed to feeling it has been foisted upon you. This puts you in control and gives you the foundation needed to continue on your journey with confidence.
- Be Proactive: Whatever the life event or change is, being informed and knowledgeable about what you’re about to go through is always helpful. Read up on what you should expect, take classes, or speak to others who’ve gone through similar experiences or changes so you are prepared.
- Choose to be Positive: When we feel stress or other negative emotions as a result of life events, we can easily sink into negative thought patterns. “I’m not going to do well in this new position.” “I’m going to be a terrible parent.” “I won’t make any friends at college.” Many of our negative thoughts stem from worry or fear of the unknown, and sabotage our ability to live in the moment and be positive. Instead of spending time fearing or worrying about what “could be” focus on the positive and enjoy things as they occur.
- Stay Flexible: Even the sweetest moments in life can present obstacles or challenges. Further, no matter how much we plan, there will always be uncertainty and unpredictability. Remaining flexible, however, will help you adapt when necessary. There is no absolutely right or perfect way of doing things, and allowing yourself the freedom of changing course when necessary will keep you from staying stuck on the wrong course.
- Keep Things in Perspective: When things seem especially challenging or stressful, remind yourself of the end-goal…the big picture. This will give you better perspective for those times when hiccups occur along the way so they feel less major and more manageable.
- Take Care of Yourself: Although taking care of our health and well-being seems to be the last thing we have time to do when we are going through major changes, it is when we need it most. Getting enough sleep, eating right and making time for exercise is all instrumental in our ability to cope. Not only will you be providing your body and mind with the care it needs, but you’ll also be ensuring you have the energy and stamina to deal with challenges as they present themselves.
- Take Time to Breathe: We take breathing for granted, mindlessly breathing in and out. Active deep breathing, however, can help reduce anxiety. Take some time each day to practice deep breathing to reduce stress and tension.
- Learn to Let Go: Even the best laid plans don’t always go as we hope. Approaching these moments with a bit of laughter and a lighter attitude will help reduce stress and enable you to let go of the situation more easily.
- Lean on Loved Ones: Major life events are a good time to call on loved ones for help. Whether you need a couple extra hands to help with a move, a few extra ears as a sounding board, or want someone to share in your excitement, our friends and family are more often than not, happy to oblige.
Have you found life events to be stressful? How did you stay positive and enjoy the experience?
Embarking on a major change in your life? Don’t know where to start? A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life (January 2, 2013) is a smart, practical approach to changing any aspect of your life. Whether you want to eat healthy, switch careers, or improve a relationship, A Whole New You will inspire you to take control of your life and to live at your very best.