dealing with transitions

5 Tips for Dealing with Transitions

Our lives are always changing: a new job, a new friendship or relationship, an illness, a graduation, or even the loss of a loved one are all different types of transitions.  Transitions come in all shapes and sizes.  A larger scale transition like a break up, job change, or apartment move may have a different effect on our life as a medium scale transition like needing to work from home for a week because of the flu, and a small scale transition is like unexpectedly taking the bus instead of the subway because of weekend construction.  Transitions can be both exciting and challenging.  While trying new things can be refreshing, many people find comfort in their daily routines, and experiencing a transition can get in the way of these comforts.


Learning to deal with transitions is important as our busy lives are almost always changing!  Here are some tips for dealing with transitions:


1) Plan
While preparing for a transition is not always fully possible, it can provide great relief to mindfully anticipate what you will feel when a transition happens and prepare.    For example, let’s say you are moving apartments and you always get your morning coffee from the same place in the neighborhood around your current apartment.  You say hi to the server, make the same order, and enjoy it the same way each day.  Before you you move to a new apartment, try to anticipate how not having this coffee in this way may affect your day.  What has it been like if you’ve missed this routine in the past?  Are there alternatives that could substitute while you transition to your new place?  Planning can help you cope with these experiences could make a big difference!


2) Ask for help
This is a tough one!  Asking for help requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to communicate to them what it is that you need.  Don’t be afraid to do it!  Many times you may be surprised to find just how willing people are to help you.  For example, let’s say you are starting a new job, and you have a tough first day.  Give yourself permission to reach out to a friend and talk it over.  Not only will you get another perspective to understand the situation in a different way, but even simply knowing that you have support may change your experience that second day!


3) Keep a routine
When something is changing, keep other things consistent.  For example, if you are graduating from college your professional life will look different. You won’t be going to class, and instead, going to work; you will have professional more active professional relationships, and your new work life may feel very different.  When the professional life is changing, try to keep things consistent in your personal life. If you have a regular meeting night when you spend time with your friends, protect it as you transition out of your school routines; If you have jogged or gone to the gym 3 times a week to help you get through graduate school, protect that regimen as you begin your life after.


4) Know where you are going; keep things in perspective
Any life story has a beginning, turning points, and a culminating end, and your transitions are just like those middle turning points.  As you experience these turns, keep this bigger picture in mind–that the transitions will ultimately lead to the final goal.  Keeping things in perspective can help when transitions feel really hard.  For example, people often choose to go back to school to pursue a higher degree, sometimes after having worked for many years. A person may have the aim to land a promotion and a raise.  When one makes this decision, the short term effects could be lowered income, less professional prestige, and less flexibility to live life freely, all transitions to cope with. Keeping the end in site, and the larger goal could provide some relief when those transition challenges arise!


5) Go easy on yourself–things may feel different and that’s ok!
Finally, remember as you transition to allow yourself to feel what it is you feel.  It’s ok to be anxious for your first date; it’s normal to be lonely after a break-up; and when you have go to that new coffee shop where you don’t know anyone, you may just feel a little shy.  Emotions are best experienced and not denied, and usually transitions bring with them a mix of emotions.  Embrace them and let them come–you’ll make it through!
Remember, transitions are constant and happen in all areas of life.  Challenge yourself to engage with your transitions, practice coping with them, and you can feel better through them.

What ways do you deal with life transitions? What are some steps that you take to relieve the stress that they bring? Feel free to answer below in the comments section!

Adam Joncich, Ph.D - NYC Therapist

Psychologist at
Offers individual and couples counseling in NYC.

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2 replies
  1. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    I think one of the most difficult aspects of any transition is the intense and often surprising emotions that transitions bring with them. I agree that it is so important to allow yourself to feel whatever these emotions are and to acknowledge them, embrace them, and to allow them to occur. It is so easy and common to focus on the negative aspect of change and to highlight the new and scary parts of transitions. However, I find that no matter how difficult it is, I always try to come up with at least one positive aspect to this change. I think of something exciting it may bring or something new I will get to explore. If I focus on one or two positive parts of the change, instead of dwelling over the negative, it becomes less overwhelming and I can work through it easier and with more confidence!

  2. Matt
    Matt says:

    I think it is important for me to always remember to breath. I trust that things will always work out even when things seem to be a mess. I try to look at the big picture as a whole instead of the little circumstance or challenges.

    When it comes to the transition of a loved one, I trust that in my faith that life continues on. I find solace knowing that I can still connected with those who have crossed over. This also helps me when things change. I have faith that there is more to life than what I can see. This helps me deal with any transition, big or small.

    Great blog.


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