JEAN’S JOTTINGS FEBRUARY 2022
I am sure that it comes as no surprise to most of you that transitions might be on my mind, but I want to focus on the fact that we are all living with and through transitions all the time…some transitions have a greater impact on our day to day lives than others do. The important thing, I think about transitions is how we handle them, how they effect us… are they major life shifting transitions or are they the ones that when we look back we can see that a change had happened.
I started thinking about transitions from a very personal perspective… a major shift this past year when Doug died and another major shift/transition as I retire from Parish Nursing but then I looked broader and realized that we are all working through transitions all the time…especially as we think of these last couple of years with Covid.
Here is a bit of what I am learning.
Expecting change boosts or improves our mental health. If we keep in mind that any new developments or life transitions – welcome or unwelcome – are temporary, we will experience more tranquility. An awareness that change is happening or is anticipated helps smooth that path.
What Is a Life Transition?
A life transition is any change or adjustment that impacts your life in a significant way. We all experience transitions throughout our lives — big and small, planned, and unplanned.
Transitions may be centered around something exciting, such as starting a new job or an addition to your family. They can also be prompted by distressing situations, such as the loss of a loved one or the onset of a pandemic. Transitions can involve exciting changes, distressing ones, or even just milestones. For example, many people struggle with changes such as turning 40, retiring, or becoming a parent.
Tips for Dealing with Transitions:
- Prepare (when you can). When possible, try to prepare for your transition. This may involve outlining a plan for the logistics of your transition — or just setting a helpful mindset.
- Set reasonable expectations. Unmet expectations can create frustration or stress. Try to set the reasonable expectation that you will likely feel stressed and overwhelmed at times. It’s also helpful to remember that feeling stressed during transitions is completely normal!
- Develop a routine. Consider creating morning and evening routines to facilitate a sense of consistency. Regular sleep and wake times, a daily walk, meditation, or intention-setting for the day can be great additions to your routine.
- Check your self-talk. What types of things are you saying to yourself? Are these internal comments helping you cope with this transition or making the transition more challenging? One way to develop helpful self-talk is to recall transitions (or other difficult situations) you’ve successfully coped with before; they can be a reminder that you can manage this too!
- Set small goals. Instead of trying to fully resolve everything related to your transition, set small feasible goals to take on one at a time. Ask yourself, “What is one small thing I can do right now?”
- Stay connected. Social support is critical during times of transition. Chatting with a family member or friend can be a way to help your transition feel less lonely.
- Practice self-compassion. Change is difficult. The reality is that you aren’t always going to navigate life transitions perfectly. While these recommendations can be useful in making transitions a bit easier, it is important to also be kind and compassionate to yourself during this time. Not sure how to do this? Then try this: “It’s okay to feel overwhelmed or stressed when navigating a change in life. I’m just going to do the best I can in this moment.”
In early January, the Rejoice magazine had a devotional titled ENDING WELL. The verse from Revelation really spoke to me.
“See, I am making all things new.” I became aware how each transition is an opportunity for God to make “things new”.
That just as the writer suggests, we should pause, give thanks for what is good, and live fully into the moment. Then we need to move forward with a prayer that our thoughts and words and actions will be pleasing to God.
Jean MacDonald, Parish Nurse