There are times in our lives when we go through life changes such as the loss of a family member or friend, divorce, or a career transition. In some cases, the key life change driving stress in our life may be well known and singular. In other cases it may be multiple factors which combined can “sneak up” on us. How can you handle these challenging times of transition with less stress?
Use These 4 Tools to Handle Life Changes
Use Scaling to Assess the Level of Stress in Your Life.
No matter what is causing you stress, it is often helpful to scale your stress level to better assess its potential impact. The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress inventory is a very good tool to complete a quick assessment of your stress level and its impact on your health. Taking this test will only take you about five minutes for the entire assessment and to generate your score. And it’s free!
Lean on Family and Friends During Life Change.
When facing any life change, you will need support to navigate the waters surrounding your transition. Your transition may result in feeling like you are on the biggest roller coaster ride that you have ever been on! Social capital refers to a measure of close friendships. If your social capital is low, work to grow it. If you need additional support, you can also engage a counselor to work through the transitions with you. If your social capital is adequate, run your plans by your family and friends. Get their input! I know for me my plans have changed due to my family’s and friends’ input, and the result has been a much improved plan. Be honest with your family, friends, and counselor. Often these people may have a similar experience that ends up teaching you. In the process of sharing, your social capital also becomes stronger.
Understand and Listen to Your Heart.
In cases with planned life changes, what does your heart say about your plan? If you had to give two or three goals for your life, would your planned transitions move you toward that? If not, how could you modify your life changes so that they would move you toward your life goals? In cases where the transitions are not your plan, you may need to make a choice to accept the impact of those transitions on your life, and open your heart to whatever is a result. I know in my three unplanned life changes, none of those were my plan and yet out of each of those years some incredibly good outcomes changed my life. Who I am today became an outcome of each of those three “bad” life changes. And truly out of the bad, emerged life changing goodness. Allow life changes to define you and truly shape your heart.
Identify an Example of Your Image of Success.
When facing planned or unplanned life changes, it may be helpful to identify an individual (or individuals) whom you admire and respect who’s faced life changes with aplomb. My youngest daughter, Shannon, has followed her heart in her career though many scoffed at her choices. Through many life changes, she has worked diligently to pursue her dream of working for the National Forest Service. Thankfully, she has great social capital with friends and family. I have watched her weather the changes and grow from them. She is an example of my image of success. In your own life, consider your role model or image of success. Assess the impact of that individual on your life and your heart. How did this person make your life better? What has the person taught you?
So as you face life changes whether planned or unplanned, scale the risks, engage with family and friends, seek your heart, and look to those who’ve demonstrated success in facing life changes for strength.