Mentally Preparing For A Major Life Change


mentally preparing

From leaving school to experiencing the death of a loved one, we all go through big changes in our life — whether we want to or not. Often, we have no choice but to adapt to these changes.

However, while we may go through the motions — many of us can take a while to mentally adapt. By mentally preparing yourself beforehand, big life changes can become less traumatic and instead become rewarding experiences. Here’s how to mentally prepare yourself for change.

How Your Brain Handles Major Life Changes

Our natural human response to major life changes is to get stressed. This includes negative life changes, like the loss of someone close or getting fired from a job; however, it can also include positive life changes, like moving in with a partner you love or landing a job you’ve always wanted.

Unfamiliarity causes stress. Familiar situations are comforting to us — we’ve already created neural pathways to help us deal with these situations, and our brain may even release feel-good hormones because a situation is rewarding. Unfamiliar situations are daunting — we haven’t created the neural pathways in order to deal with them, and so the brain pumps the body full of cortisol, the stress hormone, in order to make us more alert and prepared for danger.

By mentally preparing for major life changes — we can create a sense of familiarity. This can help to reduce stress — because we have a clearer idea of what we need to do.

Understanding Involuntary Versus Voluntary Change

Some changes are out of our control. Examples include the loss of a loved one, being let go from your job, being forced to move home due to disaster, or having to overcome a debilitating illness or injury. These involuntary changes are often harder to prepare for because they’re unexpected — and thus so often end up being more traumatic.

Voluntary changes are changes that we bring on ourselves. Examples include moving home, getting a new job, getting into a new relationship, or adopting a pet. There’s less risk of these changes being stressful, because we often spend time preparing for them. That said, those of us who have a tendency to be more spontaneous may still make life changing decisions without preparing — and stress may set in later when we realize the weight of the change.

In either case, we can still mentally prepare ourselves to reduce our risk of trauma.

Preparing For Involuntary Change

It’s important to constantly question, “What if?” — no matter how morbid the question may be. What if my parents were to die? What if my partner was to leave me? What if I was to be made redundant from my job? How would I act in these situations?

Creating backup plans for everything can make any major life change less stressful because you’ve already started to mentally prepare for these eventualities. This doesn’t mean that you should spend every day worrying and expecting the worst. However, you shouldn’t live your life expecting nothing to go wrong.

Make sure to physically prepare for major life changes that are inevitable. Talk to your parents about their funeral plans and find out whether they have a will. Start making plans for retirement, such as setting aside money. You can also physically prepare for disasters that may not happen — people take out insurance or set aside emergency savings for this very reason.

Prepping For Voluntary Change

There are many changes in life that we make on our own. It’s important to spend time mentally and physically planning for these changes and not to take the leap unprepared. Fail to prepare, and the change could be overwhelming, and you may regret it.

A prime example is moving your home. Buyer’s remorse is very common after a rushed property purchase — some people are unable to make their new home feel like home and end up moving very soon after or falling into depression. Make sure that you spend time looking at real estate websites and planning multiple viewings before choosing a property. Once you’ve settled on a home, spend time thoroughly researching the property and the area to build familiarity. If possible, arrange a second or third viewing. By the time you move in, it will feel like home.

Research can also help when pursuing a new job or considering having kids. Prepare yourself for all the changes that may lie ahead. Focus on the things you may feel anxious about — this could include going as far as to practice a commute to a new job or practicing diaper changes.

When mentally preparing for big life changes, there is a risk of overthinking them. This may lead to procrastination, which could one day lead to similar feelings of regret if you end up missing opportunities. When thinking about undergoing a major life change that you know is right for you, try to make a detailed plan and get confirmation from others to make sure that it is a good idea. Once you’re certain it’s the right move for you, start setting goals and rewards. It could even be worth laying out a multistep process — begin the first step and get the ball rolling.

Adjusting To Your Life Changes

Once the change starts occurring, there will come a point when there’s no turning back. It’s important to keep looking forward at this point — there is nothing gained from dwelling on what you could have done differently.

When it comes to traumatic events, don’t be afraid to look into counseling. At the very least, explore your feelings by talking to friends and family. This will help you to move on.

It’s important to remember that even after undergoing the biggest life changes, certain things will remain the same. Try to reinforce old healthy habits and routines where possible. Keep up old hobbies that bring you joy, listen to music you love, indulge in healthy comfort foods, and stay in contact with old friends. This will reduce the shock of a major life change by making you realize that not everything has changed.

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