When preparing for life changes, it might be helpful to think of previous transitions in your life. Sometimes the newness of a situation can feel overwhelming and your emotional response may feel very intense and perhaps even scary. It can be comforting to remember you have lived through similar experiences in the past and, in spite of your initial reaction, you were able to adjust eventually.
Also, it may be better to share your reactions with someone even if you're worried no-one would understand. Keeping a fear locked up inside yourself only helps it to grow in intensity and impact. Finding a way to express your concerns and reactions with someone provides relief and possibly a new perspective. Remind yourself that your thoughts and feelings are important whether they are shared by others or not. Allow yourself to 'listen' to your feelings/thoughts/reactions rather than pushing them down or medicating yourself with alcohol, drugs, food, etc. You might gain insights which may lead to different ways of dealing with your experience. Life transitions provide the opportunity to get to know yourself better.
Remember it is generally helpful to:
- 'Acknowledge' your thoughts, feelings, reactions (at least internally) without making a judgment. e.g. I am really feeling sad; I am angry, scared; I am feeling inadequate, etc.
- Ask 'what might be going on for me?' 'What does this situation remind me of?' Invite your thoughts to go wherever they want to in order to get as much awareness/insight as possible. Sometimes a person experiences strong emotions that seem like an overreaction; it might be possible that the present circumstances provoke an emotional memory of a previously stressful/painful situation. To recognize this connection might allow you to have a better understanding of your present situation. If you worry about something excessively (obsess) and/or engage in compulsive obsessing, etc. what might be the real worry, fear...that gets masked by your conscious, obsessional thoughts?
- Reassure yourself that whatever you think or feel it is alright even if it is negative; there is a difference between thinking and feeling something and acting it out which may not be healthy, constructive or acceptable. Thoughts/feelings do NOT equal actions. Ask yourself, given your feelings/thoughts, what would be helpful right now? What might you be able to do to comfort yourself and/or to deal with the situation constructively.
- Remember previous adjustments; e.g., when you first moved away from home...imagine what you felt like when you were, for the first time alone in your room, had to face a day on your own. Note your feelings, thoughts...how did you deal with it, what was comforting to you?
- How do you generally deal with stress? What else could you do to soothe/take care of yourself? (e.g., make a list of activities)
- Do you ever use drugs, alcohol, or food to help yourself 'feel better?' If so, what could you do instead?
Tips for mental health on a daily basis:
- Exercise regularly.
- Pay attention to your nutrition, eat regularly.
- Interact/have contact with a person.
- Learn/try something new.
- Do something nice for yourself, do something nice for someone else, write into a journal.
- In regards to alcohol use, if you choose to drink, it is wise to:
- set a limit for yourself before you start drinking, e.g., "I'll have no more than two 8 oz. of beer."
- pace yourself, drink slowly, have a non-alcoholic beverage in between drinks.
- If you choose not to drink, it might be easier to let others know ahead of time; if you feel uncomfortable with sharing the real reason, it is perfectly alright to think of a less vulnerable explanation, e.g., 'due to a medical' condition...