Coping with Change - Dealing with Life Transitions

Medically reviewed by: Ilbey Ucar – PhD (Psychology)

Last updated date : July 22, 2022

Chapter 1:
What Is Change?

Scared, nervous man is in the bed biting his fingers
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Chapter 1:

What Is Change?

Scared, nervous man is in the bed biting his fingers

Change can mean a lot of different things. Sometimes it a pleasant surprise, other times a nasty shock or it can be a frustrating grind. Change can happen at home, work or just about any other aspect of our lives. Coping with change can be challenge, especially if there is a lot happening quickly. Life transition aren’t easy, however the right tips and strategies can help greatly. 

Most of the time, change isn’t within our control. It’s normal that our jobs, relationships and roles change in life — it’s not always for the better. Coping with change can be hard. However, it’s important that we adjust.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways to cope with change and even to take advantage of it. Different psychological strategies that you can try out. With the aim to be better equipped to cope with change.

Chapter 2:

Know Coping with Change

As mentioned above, we can’t avoid change. Sometimes it’s practical. For example, growth of one’s business or an increase in one’s wages. On the other hand, sometimes losing your job is a little painful or losing a loved one will hurt you. Often the most difficult changes to understand and adjust to are the ones that are unexpected and out of our control. Such as a downturn, a global pandemic, or a major disaster. Certainly, changes in this can be really hard to come to terms with. However, depending on your reaction to it, you’ll often find that your experience of them can be made better or worse.

There are two suggested ways to cope with change:

  1. Escape coping with change
  2. Control coping with change

Chapter 3:

Escape Coping with Change

As you already know, escape coping is mainly based on negligence. You may take intentional actions to avoid the difficulties of the change you’re facing. For example, you might intentionally miss a new group project or show up too late to attend a meeting.

Maybe you’ll trash important letters from your office or school or ignore calls from your family or from a friend who’s just got the spotlight of the day. Some people even take refuge in alcohol or drugs.

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Chapter 4:

Control Coping with Change

On the other hand, control coping is more dynamic and energetic. You refuse to be a victim of the change, and you manage your feelings and get support to be part of this change.

In reality, most of us react to important and big changes with a mixture of both escape and control coping. But we believe that control coping is generally the better option because it is challenging to escape reality for long without becoming tired or damaging yourself.

Why is it important to Cope with Change?

If you can’t cope with change, you can’t lower your risk for anxiety and depression. Your relationships will thrive, and your body will feel healthier. But if you can’t cope with change, only a small amount of stress can make you feel overwhelmed by life.

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Chapter 5:

Why Can't I Cope with Change?

It’s true that adjusting yourself to significant  changes can be really hard. Every big life moment (Going away to school, starting a new job or breaking up with someone) comes with its fair share of stress and critical changes. These vital changes can impact even the toughest person. It’s normal to feel anxious or overly emotional when you adjust to the new version of your life. You might have these feelings most likely until you regain your grip. However, sometimes these feelings don’t go away or get worse over time. If that happens, it means it could be a sign of an adjustment disorder or a sneaky stress-related condition that strikes after major life transitions.

However, it’s not something you have to tough out on your own. With awareness and treatment, getting back to your regularly scheduled programming is possible.

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Chapter 6:

Stages of Reacting to Change

Certainly, changes are difficult sometimes because they challenge how we think, how we work, and even our sense of identity. Usually, a human reacts to these changes in four stages:

  1. Shock and disorientation
  2. Anger and other emotional responses
  3. Coming to terms with the “new normal”
  4. Acceptance and moving forward

However, our development through these stages is not simple or direct. We might get stuck in one stage, or advance quickly but then rechange. And there is often no clear-cut, deciding move from one stage to another. Shock can change to anger, for example, with no clear break between the two.

It’s good to know how life transitions make you think about healthy  coping strategies and how coping with change can lead you to beautiful life transitions.

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Chapter 7:

Strategies for Coping with Change

As mentioned above, change is difficult to avoid. You’ll take over new responsibilities at work and home, and your marriage may go through a difficult chapter, and your roles in life will start to change. Even good changes such as a promotion, birth or maybe adoption can cause you uncertainty. Adjusting to a new normal can be really challenging. You may feel all sorts of emotions from joy to sadness and, further, anxiety.

Stress is part of every kind of change. That is to say, when you’re stressed, the pillars of healthy living tend to fall off your important list. A better suggestion is to explore these proven strategies.

Man standing atop mechanical, human head installing new bulb replacing old one inside the brain
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Chapter 8:

Get Proactive before Coping with Change

Being proactive means taking charge and working to stop the changes. This means you understand what steps you need to take before something happens in your life. This might be really beneficial and helpful in your day to day life transitions.

On the other hand, being reactive means something different. It means waiting until something has happened and then taking action.

Imagine you are making an appointment with your doctor. It’s because you know something stressful is coming up. Further, you want to seek support. This is normal, and if this happens It means that you can have a positive effect on the world. Because of that,  it helps you to be active with groups.

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Chapter 9:

Face Your Fears

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown – H.P. Lovecraft

Writing down the fears when you are going through something different can help you to survive them. Go through each fear you have. Take your time. Try to write down everything you feel. This can really help you with the emotional anxiety you get.

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Cha0pter 10:

Be Patient and Believe In Yourself

It takes some time to adjust to some differences. Specially, When we make changes in our lives. It’s important to remember to be patient and trust yourself. After all, the best things worth achieving in life often take time.

On the other hand, those who believe they can develop their skills are most likely to cope better with change. The reason is, we should see change as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and create a new set of skills.

Chapter 11:

Find the Humour

Try to find a funny moment during an unfunny situation. This can be a positive way to see a problem from a new perspective. In addition, it helps others feel better as well.

Humour researcher Rod A. Martin has found that affiliative humour can lighten the mood and develop social connections. Just make sure it’s not rude and other people’s problems are not a reason to laugh. However, your own struggles can be a reason for humour.

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Chapter 12:

Vent to a Point

If you have a support group whom you can rely on can be helpful—to a point. If you and your support group are expressing  that feeling of frustration can be catching. Try taking the conversation toward action: What can you do to make things better?

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Chapter 13:

Acknowledge That Things Are Changing

It’s important to acknowledge that there are some unexpected life transitions going on in your life. That is to say, and most people avoid accepting and dealing with it. This is a powerful force that protects us in many ways. However, always saying to yourself, “Things are changing, and it is okay, ” can be less stressful than not accepting it.

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Chapter 14:

Collect the Positives

When you are going through these changes in your life,

  • You may have met new people
  • You started practicing healthier habits
  • Maybe you became more politically active
  • You became more confident.
  • Maybe it helped you prioritize what is most important in your life

Change gives us the opportunity to grow, and always remember to acknowledge how things have become better as a result.

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Chapter 15:

Confront Your Feelings and Seek Support

Try to face your feelings about fear and the changes you are going through in life, especially when the change is beyond your control. This could mean that you have to cope with the loss of someone or something that you really care about. However, you don’t have to act as a victim, even when you are not in control, because it’s not necessary. Try to accept what you are feeling and then reach out to a friend, partner, a family member and communicate with them.

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Chapter 16:

And Finally, Give Yourself a Break

Stressed man sitting on a bench in the beach looking at the setting sun

During life transitions you may feel like you are falling off track. Remember, we all doubt ourselves, we all make mistakes and it’s okay to do less than what is humanly possible. If you find that you are being too critical of yourself, show some kindness to yourself. 

Change is hard. What counts is learning from our experiences, so that we can cope with change better. The right psychological skills for you, can make all the difference when coping with life transitions. 

At Epsychonline we have a range of mental health courses. We cover topics such as social anxiety, perfectionism and bullying. Visit our courses page to learn more.  

Reviews 4.1

Learn evidence-based scientific ways of coping with chronic fatigue

99 Lessons

3 hours

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

€9.00 €12.00

25% discount