Transitions are a part of life. Everyone can expect to experience a significant amount of change over the course of a lifetime. Adjusting to change can be difficult for some and often causes stress, even if those life transitions are genuinely positive.
An upcoming marriage, birth, or graduation can all be considered positive changes, but can be accompanied by their own unique stressors. Other major life transitions may be out of someone's control. Negative changes, such as going through a divorce, moving across the country, or being diagnosed with cancer, cause a significant amount of stress that will lead to anxiety, depression, or behavioral problems.
Those who have a difficult time coping with life transitions may find it helpful to seek out a therapist. A licensed mental health professional is trained to guide patients through life transitions and inspire them to see the positive, rather than the negative. Support groups or group therapy sessions might also benefit individuals who have experienced a particular type of change, such as a life-altering illness or disability, or the death of a close friend or family member.
Knowing how to adapt to change has a significant impact on influencing personal growth and encourages the development of new skills or knowledge. Therapy often leads to someone having a greater awareness of how even the most drastic change can result in them becoming stronger, more confident, and better prepared for what life will throw at them next.
If someone doesn't have the necessary coping mechanisms to deal with the level of stress they are experiencing, they will eventually notice drastic changes in their physical and mental health. This is known as Adjustment Disorder, which causes a wide array of symptoms, including depression, panic attacks, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, trouble sleeping, and possibly drug and alcohol abuse. The symptoms often occur when someone's reaction to the type of event that occurred is stronger than they expected. They experience more emotional turmoil than experienced by others facing the same situation.
Someone with Adjustment Disorder may find it helpful to speak with a therapist before any significant changes in life occur. In this way, one can prepare for changes and become better able to face them in the future, even without prior knowledge of potential changes.
While in therapy, patients are encouraged to research an upcoming change so it may be easier to face and make that person more relaxed about the situation. They also learn how to monitor other significant changes that are on the horizon so their stress levels aren't exacerbated. Being healthy in mind and body is helpful in making it easier to cope with significant life transitions, so many therapists advice patients to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat nutritional foods.
If you'd like to talk to someone about life transitions, please contact us.
Michaela Bucchianeri, PhD, LP
"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver
I love this question because I believe it possesses a sort of magical property. In an instant, it shakes loose all the constraints and assumptions about how things must be, and invites you to pause and consider how they might be.
What might your life be like if you weren't consumed with fear, worry, or shame?
What might your life be like if your time and energy were available for the people and interests that truly lit you up?
What might your life be like tomorrow if you took one small (but bold) step today?
Questions like this create a sense of urgency. They stir up emotion. They spark action.
Therapy isn’t so different. If you’re living with anxiety or body image and eating concerns, know this: Those sensitivities and insecurities that keep you feeling stuck? They’re strengths and resilience in disguise. When your energy is finally freed up to use how you wish, there will be no stopping you.
Therapy works best when the latest, tested tools are shared between a client ready for change and a therapist who knows and understands what that feels like.
It’s a bit like walking the Myers-Briggs line between Thinking and Feeling. And you’re not walking alone.
Thoughts + feelings.
Brain + heart.
They don’t always agree. So, if right now both are telling you to take the next step, it might be time to listen.Education:
- PhD in Clinical Psychology, University of Notre Dame
- Postdoctoral residency in Eating Disorder Treatment, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center
- Postdoctoral fellowships in Eating Disorders Research & Child/Adolescent Primary Care, University of Minnesota
Clinical experience in hospital, community mental health, and university counseling settingsSpecialties:
- Body image/weight concerns
- Career changes/discernment
- Emotional eating/binge-eating
- Health behavior change
- Life transitions
- Postpartum anxiety/adjustment
- Self-care/stress management
- Work-life harmony