6 Tips for Managing Stress During Big Life Changes
February 7th, 2023
Life is an ever-shifting landscape of change. It can happen suddenly like with a death of a family member, or gradually like with the birth of a baby or moving to a new city. Whether expected or not, change is stressful. Knowing how to cope can make a difference in both the present moment and the future.
Here are a few tried-and-true strategies for managing your stress during big life changes.
#1 Maintain Some Sense of Structure As humans, we’re most comfortable with consistency. We like to know what to expect from one moment to the next. So, when life becomes unpredictable, it make us feel anxious and insecure. One thing you can do to reduce anxiety is to maintain some sense of structure to your life. Whether it’s a simple morning routine or going to bed at the same time every night, keeping a routine during highly stressful times can help you feel grounded.
#2 Practice Self-Care During big life changes, it’s easy to neglect your own needs. Depending on the situation you’re going through, you may even feel guilty about taking care of yourself. But, these are the times when self-care will benefit you and those around you the most. Set aside time every day to do something relaxing. Read a book, take a bath, or watch your favorite show. An hour of self-care per day is optimal, but even fifteen minutes is better than nothing. If you feel like that’s too much, take five minutes to breathe and stretch.
#3 Reach Out to Friends or a Therapist Let’s face it, we’re social creatures. Even the most introverted among us needs connection with other people from time to time. During unpredictable times, we need connection even more. Talking on the phone with a trusted friend can reduce stress and lower your heart rate. Hugging someone for twenty seconds lowers blood pressure and soothes frazzled nerves. Don’t feel like you have to shoulder problems on your own. Reach out and talk to someone. When you’re feeling particularly fragile, seek professional help so you can get through this time of big change stronger than ever.
#4 Get Organized When life gets unpredictable, we often feel overwhelmed and have a hard time keeping track of what we need to do next. Making lists and checking off the boxes can help you stay focused on moving forward. Grab a notebook and start making a list of tasks you need to accomplish. You’re bound to feel a sense of relief every time you check off an item off the list.
#5 Prioritize your Responsibilities Sometimes it’s important to reduce our obligations so we don’t burn out. When you’re going through big life changes, it’s a good idea to limit your obligations to things that are absolutely necessary. If you’re always cooking dinner, order out instead. If you’re usually the one to pick up the kids from school, ask their other parent to pitch in. Though it might feel indulgent, taking care of yourself by scaling back on your list of responsibilities now can help you be more productive later on.
#6 Stay in the Present Moment During times of change, dwelling on the past can keep you from moving forward, and thinking too much about the future can make you feel anxious. It’s important to stay in the present moment as much as possible. When you feel yourself start to slip into the past or the future, count your breathes, or your steps. Take a moment to look around and remind yourself that you are here now, and you are safe. Some people find it helpful to list their blessings and remind themselves that whatever has fallen away is gone, but that there is still so much worth holding on to.
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