On Transitions

Change is in the air.

As we enjoy these last weeks of summer, many of us are thinking forward to the end of vacations and the return to the grind of work or school or both.  Some of us are facing more significant transitions like sending a child off to kindergarten or college, moving across country, or starting a new job.

The following tips can support smoother transitions:

Get informed. For many, nothing is more anxiety provoking than the unknown. While it is not possible or desirable to anticipate everything, it can be comforting to have some basic idea of what is to come.  For example, a child who is attending a new school may benefit from a visit to the classroom or a play date with a future classmate. Be aware that where information is lacking, the anxious mind will often fill-in the gaps.  Counter this tendency in yourself by simply being aware and help your child by listening closely and addressing their concerns.

Fall back on the familiar. In times of transition it can be helpful to bring your attention to the aspects of life that are not changing.  For instance a child moving to a new home may feel more comfortable knowing that their favorite stuffed animal and blanket are accompanying them on the journey. Changes give you the opportunity to discover the deeper, more integral parts of yourself.

Embrace the energy of excitement. Physiologically the energy of anxiety and excitement are almost identical.  The difference is the thoughts we attach to the energy of our experience.  The more you can tune into the energy of excitement, the more you will enjoy the experience.

Grieve your losses. Change is always accompanied by loss. Whether moving to a new home or moving onto to a new job or school, there is always a sense of loss for what we have left behind. Ironically, this can occur even when the move seems like a step up (a bigger house, a better job). When working through a transition, it’s important to allow some space to grieve what you are leaving behind.

Cut yourself some slack. Transitions can be exhausting mentally, physically, and emotionally.  It may take time to establish new routines and get yourself back into familiar territory. Make sure you give yourself some extra rest and relaxation. Self-care is critical for stress management.

Surrender to the experience. Times of change can emphasize that basic existential fact that you do not have all the answers nor can you control all aspects of your experience. Transitions are a great time to practice the art of surrender. Focus on the things that you can control, such as your perspective, and let the rest go.

Embrace the autumn and all of the change it allows!