by Lindsay Fagan, M.S.W., LICSW
As the seasons are changing, it can be an important time to reflect on the topic of change. It is true that all humans, throughout the course of their lifetime, experience change. Change can be positive in that it often leads to an end of result of growth, adaptation, and confidence; while, it can also be an extremely challenging adjustment to a new reality. As adults, we often acquire a skill set gained with years of experience and learning opportunities. However, for many children and teens- whether an adjustment is tied to the start of a new school year, divorce, shifting roles, moving homes, etc. it is clear that changes may be accompanied by their own unique set of stressors.
Because change can trigger stress, it is important to be aware that it may also be accompanied with depression, anxiety, fatigue, inattention, changes in sleeping habits and appetite as well as self-worth. Persistent symptoms of stress can improve with treatment in therapy, but empowerment to prevent stress from building can also be helpful! Here are some suggestions to prevent adjustment related stress from becoming problematic:
Increased awareness about what to expect: Often, stress can be triggered by a fear of the unknown. When one is well informed about a change, it may be easier to face. It is recommended that children receive clear and consistent expectations.
Self-care: It is of utmost importance to attend to our physical and mental health. It may be easier to cope with life changes when we get enough sleep, exercise, and the nutrients we need to recover and heal.
Take time to relax: It is easy to fill our time with tiresome tasks; however, scheduling breaks, leisure and time for relaxation is of equal importance.
Limiting change: Typically, it can take time to adjust to a life change. Therefore, giving yourself time to transition can be helpful. It may be advised to avoid making multiple changes at once, even smaller ones, as this may not allow enough time for an adequate adjustment period.
Talking with someone we trust: Family members and friends may be able to provide additional support and a different perspective to help one adjust to change.
When life changes prove difficult and lead to stress, anxiety and/or depression, a therapist can also help treat those issues and help one explore effective coping strategies. By learning to manage one’s thoughts, feelings and actions, one can prepare for changes and become better able to face them in the future. For more information on how to cope effectively with stressors related to adjustment and life changes, please contact Lindsay Fagan, LICSW (child and family therapist- works with children and young adults up to 25 years of age) at firstname.lastname@example.org or (802)654-7607 ext 133. Lindsay works with individuals, couples, parents, and families and welcomes inquires about her services.