How to Cope with Life Change

Reviewed by Dr Sheri Jacobson

Life change has a tendency to hit us out of nowhere. Whether it’s something like a bereavement, breakup, or redundancy, what are some quick routes to coping better?

5 Ways to cope better with life change

How can you navigate change better?

1. Cope by NOT doing things.

The fastest way to cope better? Recognise and work to slow down or stop your unhealthy ways of coping that mean you stay in a loop of stress.

These are things that make you temporarily feel better but have their own cost. You go out and get drunk, for example, but then feel even worse about yourself and less able to cope the following day.

Unhealthy coping behaviours look like:

2. Get honest about what is actually upsetting you.

Life change can leave us feeling unable to see a road out. Part of this is that we can be avoiding getting honest about why it's actually upsetting us.

Without clarity of what the problem really is, we simply can't take the right steps forward.

For example, we experience a bereavement, and tell ourselves we feel lost just as we miss the person. After all, that seems what everyone else around us is saying. But perhaps what is really driving our very low mood is that we are suddenly aware of and uncomfortable with our own mortality since the loss occurred.

3. Find healthy ways to express emotions.

Common issues when navigating life change can include being moody, snapping at those you love, or withdrawing from your social life. These happen because we are either avoiding the big emotions we suddenly feel, or projecting them onto others.

What helps is to find a way to move out your emotions and challenging thoughts that doesn’t have a negative kickback. This can look like:

4. bSeek a community.

If we are going through transformative change and those around us aren’t, or are dealing with things very differently than we are? It can be lonely and alienating.

Instead of withdrawing entirely, find your courage to reach out and find others who DO know what you are experiencing.

This might be an online community, a local support group, or a ‘meetup’ group. It could be starting your own Facebook page to find others who share your experience. Or as simple as reading articles and books by those who have gone through similar.

5. Learn and practise mindfulness.

In our attempts to understand sudden life change our mind can swing wildly between the past (what we did and didn’t do, what we should have done instead…) and the future (what will happen now, what is next, how can we change the future…). Both leave us stressed.

Peace of mind is inevitably found not in the past or the future but in the present moment.

And mindfulness meditation, a tool now integrated by many therapists into sessions, helps you to recognise and let go of your busy, time travelling mind and stay instead in the now. It’s shown by extensive research to help with anxiety and stress.

Totally overwhelmed? Don't feel alone and hopeless. Find an affordable therapist now and start talking to somone who understands.

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