How to Cope with Life Changes

It’s no secret that life changes can have a drastic impact on our wellbeing.

It’s no secret that life changes can have a drastic impact on our wellbeing. Change can be muddy. Just as one door opens, another closes, and turning the page to a new chapter can be hard. Perhaps there is the loss of a great community, or the loss of hope from an unfulfilled dream. Feelings may begin to surface as we come to terms with our new reality.

Whether a new life chapter is positive or profoundly difficult, it often takes time for our minds and nervous systems to adapt to the unfolding changes. We are naturally inclined towards comfort and stability, and encountering change can disrupt our sense of normalcy. It prompts us to notice what we are leaving behind as we forge toward an unfamiliar path full of uncertainty and unknowns.

“The reason why we often have so much discomfort in the face of change is because it threatens our identity and sense of self .”  – Dr Maya Shankar

Change is a Part of Being Human

Change is especially hard when it requires us to show up differently or adjust to new surroundings. This can prompt us to reconsider our way of life, stirring up feelings of insecurity and inadequacy.

Examples of significant life transitions: 

  • Moving away from home
  • Beginning post-secondary
  • Starting a new relationship
  • Changing careers
  • Breakups
  • Pregnancy
  • Becoming a new parent
  • Losing a loved one
  • Family estrangement
  • Exploring gender and sexuality
  • Post-traumatic growth

Signs you may be struggling with change:

Withdrawal – Not engaging in activities you normally enjoy 

Ghosting  – Abnormally absent, not replying to loved ones

Poor Hygiene – lacking motivation to shower, neglecting regular grooming rituals, failing to clean up after oneself

Procrastination – Delaying decision making due to overwhelm

Zoning Out – Distracting with mindless activities such as scrolling on Instagram and excessive information consumption

Overactive Task Orientation – Trying to control outcomes by obsessively diving into tasks

Identity Crisis – Confusion, doubt, or disillusionment about your sense of self

The difficulty is not in the change itself, but how we are coping with it. It is natural to miss aspects of your old life. With any loss there is grief, even if the change is positive, planned or premeditated.

Grief can also occur when the loss is ambiguous, such as the loss of an old identity, retiring from a career, or missing a loved one who is still alive but is no longer accessible.

Grieving a life change offers us an opportunity to reflect on what we hold dear. A question I often hear is “how can I feel better and be happy?”. To start, we can take an honest look at how we are coping with our feelings around the change.

5 Ways to Process and Cope with Life Change:

  • Allow yourself to move through the grieving process at your own pace.
  • Bring in the ‘familiar’ as you adjust to the unfamiliar. These can be special items, songs, or affirmations that bring comfort.
  • Stay connected. Call a person you feel safe with to talk through what you are feeling.
  • Reconcile with the past by reflecting on what you learned from your previous life.
  • Honour the significance of a former chapter through a closing ritual.

Acknowledging and accepting our struggle clears a path to move with the changes.

Acknowledging and accepting our struggle clears a path to move with the changes. While it is easier said than done, please know you do not have to walk this path alone. Therapy can provide a safe space to gently unpack these struggles in a private setting, with the support of a trained listener who can offer a secure relationship and professional guidance.

If you’re interested in working with me, please feel free to reach out and schedule a complimentary consultation. I would be honoured to hear from you wherever you are in your journey.

With care,

Rachel

Let’s connect

I express deep respect and gratitude for the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, their ancestral homelands, and the care they provided to the area where I am privileged to live, work, and play.

Copyright Pacific Path 2024

Vancouver, BC Canada