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9 Tips for Managing Stress During a Transitional Phase

Eileen Bailey Mar 4th, 2013 (updated Apr 23rd, 2014)
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Life is full of transitions. Some of these are a normal part of your life, such as getting married, buying a home, a child going off to school, a teenager heading off to college or simply growing older. But sometimes life throws in forced transitions: death, divorce, losing a job, health problems, having to care for a sick or elderly relative. While all transitions can be stressful, the unplanned ones tend to cause the most stress, leaving us feeling unprepared for what is to come, frightened or vulnerable. The following are some ways you can help to manage transitions.

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Cry
Cry

Health Pro Jerry Kennard previously wrote a post on the benefits of crying. According to the post, once you stop crying, your body moves into a more relaxed state. It also helps to “act as a kind of transition point between feeling upset or sad and feeling better and more positive.” So if you are feeling stressed over what life has thrown at you, sit down and have a good cry.

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It's only temporary
It's only temporary

Remember that "this too shall pass." When you are in a stressful situation if feels as if it will never end, that you will never feel better. But take a moment to look back on previous stressful situations in your life. Somehow, you made it through those and you will make it through this one too. Keeping in mind that the stress you feel is temporary can help.

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Look at past experiences
Look at past experiences

When going through previous transitions, what did you do? Did you rely on friends? Did you talk with a therapist? Did you keep yourself busy? Did you keep a positive attitude? The same strengths that helped you get through tough times before can help you now.

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Lean on others
Lean on others

While we all want to believe we can make it on our own, there are times in life when you need to lean on your friends. Check your local area to see if there is are support groups for your particular situation. Talking with others going through the same thing often helps. If you don’t have a support system or if you feel you need additional help, talk with a therapist.

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Embrace the new change
Embrace the new change

When our comfortable life is disrupted, we feel disoriented and out of place. Focusing on these feelings can make you feel even more anxious. Instead, write down how this transition could lead to new experiences that may be beneficial to your life. Whenever you are feeling anxious, read your statement and try to change your focus from apprehension to excitement.

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Allow anger and sadness
Allow anger and sadness

Allow yourself to be angry, sad, lost or scared. Instead of fighting what you are feeling, acknowledge how you feel and accept that this is a part of the transition. Don’t focus on what you “should” be feeling, rather, allow yourself your feelings. You may want to start a journal of your feelings; this sometimes helps you explore how you feel and come to terms with it.

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Give yourself some credit
Give yourself some credit

Remember that it takes courage to go through transitions. No matter what your life situation is, remind yourself that it takes courage and strength to make it through and each moment that you continue to move forward is a testament to your strength.

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Think about the outcome
Think about the outcome

Think about the good way the situation could end.  Changes are, if you are feeling anxious, you are focusing on the worst possible outcome. Write down all the beneficial ways it may end and remind yourself of these every time you begin to ruminate.

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Ask for help
Ask for help

If, no matter what you try, you still can’t manage to control your feelings of anxiety and stress, talk with a professional. Living with long-term stress can impact your physical and emotional health. Your doctor or therapist should be able to give you additional ideas for managing anxiety due to transitions.