Life changes are not an easy ride, whether the change is positive or unpleasant. Changes can include starting a new job, changing careers, getting laid off, getting married, having a break-up, getting a baby, or losing a loved one. Based on professional and personal experience, several techniques can help ease the ride and reduce stress.
From a psychological perspective, experiencing the change process is not easy. In general, people are resistant to change. That is due to the cycle they undergo to settle down and its psychological impacts
What are the stages we go through during change or transitional periods?
One of the main models that reflect on life changes and transition phases is called Hopson and Adams’ transition model. According to this model, people go through 5 to 7 stages during the change process throughout 6 to 8 months as follows; First Shock, Provisional Adjustment or the “Honeymoon”, Inner Contradictions, Inner Crisis, and finally Reconstruction and Recovery.
During the first stage, we face the impact of shock or excitement based on the nature of the change, whether joyful or unwillingly. We are mostly shocked by the idea of change and not fully aware that it took place. This phase can last for about one month.
The “Provisional Adjustment” stage comes next. this stage can last for about two months. The feeling of denial is prominent with disbelief that the change has taken place. We might experience a fake adjustment, yet it is neither a real nor a complete one!
Then comes the “Inner Contradictions” stage. This is the phase of losing confidence, uncertainty, and confusion. We start to question why we chose to go with this change or why did that happen to us; and whether we will make it through the change or just quit! This phase lasts about another two months.
We can experience the stage of the “Inner Crisis,” which is considered the downtime in the change process. It can be up to two months of depressed symptoms and feeling lost.
At this stage, we either quit the change and go into an extended crisis process, or we survive and move to the final stage. During this phase of “Reconstruction and Recovery,” we feel that we have achieved what we were aspiring for. At that time, the new change feels like a routine, and we start getting used to it, which gives us a sense of success and stability building on our new confidence.
How to cope with the change?
1. Be aware of the stages that you might be experiencing during this transitional period. Awareness plays a significant role in the acceptance and handling of any uncertainty.
2. Stress-busting techniques. Many techniques can be used to lower the stress impact during this period. Methods can vary from yoga, breathing techniques, exercising, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or any favorable way of relaxation.
3. Be prepared for the change, not only psychologically but financially and logistically as well. If financial stability is a controllable factor, it helps avoid any more stressors during the change process.
4. Setting priorities during this phase is essential. Being ready helps to have a structured thinking process and avoid being overwhelmed.
5. Another trick is keeping some of your favorable old daily routines. keeping an old routine helps people feel a sort of familiarity and can be a source of inner stability.
6. Finally, seeking support is essential, from family members and friends. Further, seeking emotional support from professionals, or therapists can help relieve the pain via customizing and offering the proper support you need.
Change is not a threat; it is a new opportunity, a normal thing that happens to all of us and will always be; it is part of being alive, so embrace it and don’t be afraid!