Managing Lifes Transitions How Christian Counseling Helps Part 2 of 2
Part 2 of a 2-Part Series
This article follows from my previous article on natural life transitions, in which I introduced the concept of developmental changes and began to explore practical ways that you can best process your life transitions. I also looked at two examples of people in transition – Sheila, a mother of five facing empty-nest syndrome, and Bud and Cheryl, a newly retired couple. In this article, I will continue to explore some of the practical ways that you can healthily work through life transitions. In order to process major changes in your life, you may need to adapt your outlook and develop positive behaviors that will help you face the changes you are experiencing.
In the previous article, I explained why it is essential to acknowledge the transition and allow yourself to grieve for any losses. Once you have done these first two crucial steps, you can continue to heal with the following considerations:
Expect Unexpected Emotions
A wide range of positive and negative emotions accompany life transitions. They can arouse excitement and anticipation, but transitions can also cause fear, anxiety, confusion, and self-doubt. For example, a student moving away from home and beginning college will experience many of these feelings, which is completely normal and temporary. Learning how to recognize and express these emotions with friends can help a person in transition move through them quicker.
For example, Bud recognizes a sense of emptiness, and he identifies his reaction as fear. Having acknowledged his emotion and response, he reassures himself this is not all there is to his life now. He can identify that feelings come and go—and so do the basic life transitions that such feelings signify.
Times of transition are inherently stressful, so self-care is more important than when life is calmer. Enough rest, exercise, and eating carefully are all necessary; so are ways to intentionally relax and de-stress; such as yoga or journaling. Routines are important as they create regularity during times of unpredictability and irregularity.
The routines of Bud and Cheryl, and that of the mom, Sheila, have been disrupted by a basic change. They all need to construct new routines and be sure to take their extra stress seriously.
Build a Support System
If you know friends and family who went through this kind of change, ask for their input. They may be only a short time past the same experience, but they are further along you are. Enlist their support. Others around you who have not experienced the changes you are going through can be supportive too, as you make them aware of what is going on with you.
Try to See God’s Goodness in Change
Finally, consider what good will come out of this change. Our loving God has your long-term good at heart and in mind, and often what we are sure will hamper us turns out to free us, uncover and increase our strengths, and toughen our character. In Jeremiah 29:11, God promises that he has plans for his people, that those plans are not for our harm, but for our good, and that he has a future and a hope. He will move us into that future, and grow us up to maturity. Life transitions are part of that plan.
Christian Counseling for Life Transitions
If you find you are having difficulty getting past a transition in your life, or are experiencing depression following a life change, consider talking things over with a professional Christian counselor. Christian counseling can help you gain, or regain, the larger perspective on your life, as well as help you in adjusting to your new situation.
To read more about coping with Life Transitions, please see Part II of this article series, in which I will discuss how Christian counseling can help us manage the sudden, drastic changes that uproot our sense of stability.
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