How To Handle Stress Triggered By Life Changes, From A Therapist

mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer By Sarah Regan
mbg Spirituality & Relationships Writer
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Writer, and a registered yoga instructor. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.
Does Change Stress You Out? Here's What A Therapist Suggests

Big life changes and transitions can feel disorienting, even when that change is for the better. And needless to say, with the ongoing pandemic, seasonal changes, and plenty of job, home, and relationship shifts happening, many of us are dealing with a lot of change right now. Thankfully, there are techniques that can help you cope with all those changes (and the subsequent stress) in a healthy way.

Why life changes can evoke stress.

Why does change feel so stressful, even when it's a positive change like starting a new job or moving to a beautiful new place? As licensed marriage and family therapist Tiana Leeds, M.A., LMFT, tells mbg, it comes down to our comfort zone—and having to move beyond it.

"Life transitions shake us up and force us out of our comfort zones. We no longer have the option to fall back on default mode," she explains. Change requires us to modify our routines to fit into our new life, she adds, "and these types of micro and macro habit shifts can be hard to adjust to, putting us on edge."

On top of that, Leeds notes, change involves uncertainty. Even if we're in a better situation than before, it's still unnerving not to have that familiarity and predictability. "Uncertainty is inherently stressful for most of us," she adds.

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Practices for navigating change gracefully:

1. Adjust your expectations of yourself.

According to Leeds, it's first and foremost important to give yourself grace and adjust your expectations of yourself. Change is rarely easy, so don't expect yourself to seamlessly adapt from the get-go, and be patient as you adjust. "Digesting and adapting to a transition uses a lot of mental and emotional energy," she explains, adding, "It's normal for things that used to feel easy to suddenly feel more difficult."

2. Ask for help.

"We are more vulnerable to loneliness during life transitions," Leeds notes. As such, she recommends asking for help when you need it. "Reaching out to others helps us feel supported and makes change feel more manageable," she says. Whether you need an extra set of hands or a shoulder to lean on, "don't be afraid to ask for what you need," she adds.

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3. Create new routines.

Amid all the changes, it's important to stay grounded—and developing healthy, uplifting routines can help you do so. As Leeds explains, life transitions can make old habits obsolete. "Rather than clinging to what's defunct but familiar, cultivate new routines to re-anchor you," she suggests. Not only will healthy habits and routines keep you grounded, but you'll bolster your sense of security in your freshly changed life.

4. Build in opportunities to combat stress.

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Last but not least, if you're feeling the effects of stress, Leeds says you'll want to actively work on combating it (which can tie back to No. 3 by way of healthy habits and routines).

"Don't let the stress build up," she says. "Instead, bring in moments of relaxation whenever possible." Maybe you pick up a new hobby, start meditating and exercising more regularly, get out into nature, start taking a stress-easing supplement, etc.*

Whatever it is you decide works for you, "make sure that while you're relaxing, you give yourself absolute permission to let everything else go," she adds.

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The bottom line.

When it comes to change and the stress it can cause, hold to your foundation of healthy habits and routines, including those that help manage the stress itself. With that, a little patience, support from loved ones, and some self-compassion, you'll be settled into your newest chapter before you know it.

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(14)
calm+

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Next-generation stress relief, featuring EU organic hemp oil, ashwagandha, and lavender oil*

calm+

calm+

Next-generation stress relief, featuring EU organic hemp oil, ashwagandha, and lavender oil*

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(14)
calm+

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