Approaching a life transition brings on great stress. The challenges of life’s milestones (going to college, first job out of college, getting married, having children, and retirement, among all of the varieties of transitions over the lifespan) can feel daunting, even if the changes are meant for positive growth in life. Further, if the changes are negative or even traumatic (loss, losing a job, illness, among the numerous situations that can feel existentially threatening), we all need support and the ability to be strong for survival.
Dr. Allen offers clients the support and means for discovering insights and personal growth through life’s challenges along the path. He has helped clients through lifespan milestones as well as traumas and unfortunate life situations. He offers various therapies, including existential psychotherapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, anxiety reduction strategies, family therapy and support, and career and life coaching.
His therapeutic mission is to help individuals in these experiences to find their authenticity, strength, and personal growth toward wholesomeness.
Life Change – It’s Scary!!
8 Ways to Healthfully Navigate Life Change
Sometimes life change can feel potently stressful, and cause bodily anxiety prior to one’s conscious awareness of the upcoming stressor. Often just the anticipation of life change can be the stressor, contributing to feelings of dread, insecurity, uncertainty, and vulnerability. We feel defenseless, as being forced out of a long-held comfort zone. Sometimes we are thrown into life change by the sudden impact of a crisis or loss of loved one.
This is not just typical anxiety from daily challenges. Life change is existential – a challenge of existence and a deep life experience. Life change can be a positive growth experience, though sometimes not so positive. This depends on the circumstances and one’s personal perception of the life change.
First, there are the normal lifespan transitional periods, though even these can bring on great stress and its accompanying anxiety symptoms (i.e., first day of elementary school, entering high school, seniors transitioning to college, college graduates entering the work world, getting married, having children, entering retirement, and coping with old age).
Typically existential anxiety is a deeply felt underlying tension that worsens as we move closer to the life transition. We may often feel physically cold, have difficulty sleeping, experience headaches or a nervous stomach, or become symptomatic in some idiosyncratic way because of the underlying anxiety.
Life change can be really negative if it occurs due to a loss of a loved one, losing a job, developing a major illness, getting divorced, among other scary life experiences. This kind of stress can contribute to stress-related illnesses, including adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. If you find yourself approaching or moving through a challenging life-changing period, here are 7 strategies to transition as painlessly as possible, or better – – to make it a positive personal growth experience.
If transitional stress is significant, consider counseling with a therapist trained and knowledgeable in helping with life transitions, and biofeedback and stress management to help you learn skills for anxiety and stress reduction for the long haul. Also seek a healing treatment plan to restore deep internal wellness.
- Review your situation. Is the change positive, negative or both? See the positives by reflecting on your strengths and potential for renewal and adjustment in time. Create a vision of the best future possible – what you want most out of life. Create images reminding you of your vision and place them around (i.e., on refrigerator, car dashboard) to help you move through your period of adjustment.
- Create renewed life goals, try new activities, get up every day and be proactive. Build your strength, vigor, creativity, and spirit. Help others through volunteering or giving service in some capacity. Keep busy. Join a support group, master a discipline, create a new hobby, or enhance an existing one.
- Life changes require your recovery, strength and stamina. Take good care of yourself. Get good sleep. Eat a good diet. Exercise and get outdoors whenever possible. Get lots of sunlight, meditate, and stay fit.
- Reach out for assistance, emotional support, and seek others who bring meaning to your life at this time.
- Read inspirational books. Watch inspirational movies. Write your feelings and thoughts in a journal.
- Keep the past sacred. Create a positive memory library (list favorite memories). Create a CD of your favorite music over the years. Reflect on key life elements: What was the best day of your life? Who were your heroes and mentors? What are 10 things you feel most grateful for throughout your life? Who are the people who helped you and loved you the most? Contact them, or send a letter. If deceased, write a letter to them, and save it.
- Life change can bring lots of wisdom and personal growth. The key is acceptance and going with the flow of life. Though challenging, lessons gained from a deep life experiences refine the soul. Take opportunities for self-exploration during a transition, be strong in spirit, and be honest and authentic. Listen to your dreams for they are revealing of intuitions and insights from deep within.
Return to Areas of Clinical Practice for Children and Adults