Seasons change, and so do I….

I remember when Memorial Day marked not just the beginning of summer, but also the unlocking of public pools and beaches, the time when white pants and shoes could now be donned, AND the transition from school to play. That was more than a few years ago!       

Season changes still remain milestones in our lives, no matter how many years ago we graduated from school. The longer days of sunlight offers relief from the dark days of winter. What joy as we delight in light! Yet, on the other side, here in Florida, the warm weather, the VERY warm weather after Memorial Day, might change our daily routines to encompass more indoor, air conditioned activities. Either way, our lives alter as the seasons evolve from one to the next.

Some transitions are welcome, while others require more work for us to adjust. Adapting to warm weather may seem like a piece of cake to most of us, yet some of us miss the outdoors. Giving up afternoon walks might feel like a real loss. Yet, season changes are still fairly simple compared to other transitions many of us confront. These transitions might include moving to a new community, retiring from work, losing a spouse to death or divorce, accepting a new disability or re-configuring your home now that you have an empty nest. Any of these transitions can open the door to depression, anxiety, confusion, anger and/or frustration. Sometimes we need help with managing those transitions—and the accompanying emotions. With assistance, we can embrace the change and make the most out of the opportunity.

If you are struggling with a transition, here are 7 tips for smoothing out the inevitable bumps.

  1. More than anything—TAKE SOME TIME. We tend to be impatient and expect ourselves to adjust rapidly. Any change takes time and the bigger the change, the longer the adjustment will take.
  2. REFLECT. Your life is now different and you can’t expect everything to be the same. Reflect on what you are giving up. We all have a propensity to try to keep things the same. The old was comfortable and familiar. It worked, so why do I have to change now? Your transition might still be too raw to deal with these losses, but with time, you will be able to recount what you miss most about those friends who are no longer in your life, the job that is presently in your rear-view mirror, or your home that you recently sold to downsize.
  3. FEEL. As you list those aspects of your life that have either disappeared or have been significantly altered, you can start the process of letting go. You may be angry about the ending of your relationship, or scared about life with your newly acquired disability. Sadness, confusion or feeling overwhelmed are all are natural and part of the process.
  4. TAKE SOME MORE TIME. As you feel yourself letting go, take time to figure things out. You don’t have to make decisions right away. You are starting on a new life journey and you will be confronting lots of unknowns. There is no way you can have all of the answers right away.
  5. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT. When you move, just about everything changes, from grocery stores to doctor visits. When you retire, your financial decisions are altered, and when you downsize, your favorite piece of furniture might disappear. Don’t minimize all these challenges and don’t take all of the work you are doing for granted. Your strength in making these changes deserves appreciation.
  6. REMEMBER. Remind yourself of the other important beginnings that you have successfully confronted. Starting school or a family both required the transitional skills of a new beginning. You have the resiliency and the experience.
  7. GET HELP. At any stage of the process, you can ask for help. Grief support groups are devised specifically to support those who have recently lost a loved one; vocational counseling can help with designing a new career and psychotherapy can be a crucial component in successfully moving through any life transition that feels overwhelming.

No matter how much we plan, our life’s journey involves transitions, some bigger than others, some anticipated and some not.

If you are struggling with one of the many transitions that we all face at one time or another, please don’t hesitate to contact JFS Orlando. We have individual, couples and family counseling that can not only help you through these tough times, but will allow you to turn the crisis into an opportunity for growth. Call (407) 644-7593 ext. 247 or email to learn more about our services.

Author: Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D.

Eloise Stiglitz, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist at JFS Orlando. She’s worked for many years helping people through a variety of transitions such as moving in or out of college, designing a new life post-divorce or the loss of a loved one, or creating a new sense of self after being thrown any one of life’s many curve balls. Presently, she has developed a clinical focus of helping seniors deal with the many transitions of the ‘second act’ such as retirement, empty nest, moving and disability.