Coping with Stress and Life Transitions
“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” – John C. Maxwell
Have you been feeling overwhelmed and exhausted from long-term stress that has been getting more difficult to manage?
Are you going through a significant transition in your life right now, adjusting to a new relationship, school, job, or move?
Have you been dealing with a major life event such as the death of a loved one, a breakup/separation/divorce, or the loss of work?
Are you having a hard time coping with the emotional effects of stress and change, feeling sad, anxious, irritable, confused, or exhausted?
Have you been having trouble sleeping, eating, or focusing?
Are you struggling to get back on track?
If so, you live in Florida, and prefer the convenience of telehealth versus in-person therapy, I am here to help.
Stress is a normal part of life. It can stem from changes in identities, roles, responsibilities, relationships, and/or abilities/health. We experience many changes in our lifetime, some of which happen gradually and some very suddenly and unexpectedly. These changes, even the good ones, can be very distressing and affect us in many ways physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, academically/professionally, and/or socially. However, with a positive outlook and the right coping tools, you will not only better manage your stress but overcome the challenges of your situation/transition and become a more authentic, confident, productive, and content you.
Unwanted change, while challenging, can be beneficial too. Change provides us with opportunity to learn more about ourselves. It can make us stronger and more prepared to deal with what lies ahead in life’s journey. In fact, it’s through change that we grow and learn new ways to not only cope with adversity but thrive.
Common Life Transitions
- Moving away to college
- Adapting to university life
- Adjusting to your first professional job
- Getting married
- Having a baby
- Experiencing empty nest syndrome
- Going through a breakup, separation, or divorce
- Recovering from infidelity
- Approaching or adjusting to retirement
- Dealing with job loss or career change
- Relocating or adjusting to recent move to Florida
- Struggling with financial change
- Having medical or (dis)ability issues (Navigating Impairment and (Dis)Ability-related Issues)
- Aging and related physical and psychological adjustment
- Healing from the death of a loved one
- Exploring your faith/spirituality
- Questioning your sexuality/gender identity
Some Signs of Stress or Difficulties Coping with Change
- Anxiety (Managing and Treating Anxiety Disorders)
- Depression (Overcoming Depression)
- Mood swings
- Increased irritability
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Feeling exhausted or fatigued
- Difficulties concentrating
- Memory problems/confusion
- Making poor decisions
- Racing thoughts, constant worry
- Negative self-talk
- Tightness or muscle tension
- Headaches and other unexplained pain
- High blood pressure
- Substance abuse
- Decreased productivity
- Strained relationships
Why do we respond in these ways to stress?
The Flight or Fight Response
The flight-or-fight response is your body’s automatic reaction to extreme stress, real or perceived danger in your environment. It includes the physical, mental, and emotional symptoms of stress that occur when you brain releases chemicals into your body to prepare you to fight or flee from the stressor/threat. This primal reaction helps us survive but, when overwhelmed by a stressor or exhausted from experiencing accumulative stress for a long time, we can remain in fight-or-flight mode and find ourselves overreacting to events or situations that are not actually threatening. With this understanding and some coping tools, you learn to manage challenges in your life in a way that feels less stressful.
Whether you are dealing with the long-term accumulative effects of stress or struggling to adjust to a recent major life change, I’m here to help. I offer a warm space where you can share openly and receive compassionate support and guidance. Together, we’ll explore stress management techniques that may work for you. many of which are incorporated in evidence-based approaches proven to help manage and reduce stress.
If you think you may be dealing with trauma-related stress, and extreme form of stress in response to a traumatic experience you have had personally or have witnessed, please visit Healing from Trauma/PTSD.
Treatment for Stress
Stress Management Techniques: Relaxation Strategies, Coping Skills, and Self-care
- Breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
- Exercise (walk/run, weights, sports, dancing, yoga)
- Regular and adequate sleep
- Good nutrition
- Writing or journaling
- Creating or organizing your to-do list
- Making a pros/cons list
- Arts and crafts (draw, color, paint)
- Building something
- Sticking to routines (sleep, eating, household chores)
- Spending time with friends and pets
- Talking to a loved one
- Positive self-talk
- Listening to music
- Watching a show/movie
- Being in nature
- Volunteer work
- Anything that distracts you in a positive or meaningful way
- Anything that fills your cup and feeds your soul
Evidenced-based therapies That Incorporate Various Stress Management Techniques
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness and coping therapy. It helps you to non-judgmentally and self-compassionately accept your negative thoughts and emotions for what they are and to focus on what you can change/control (activities meaningful to you) rather than on what you can not change/control. By developing a more balanced perspective and committing to valued actions, you reduce stress and are better able to navigate your transition.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach to counseling based on the idea that thoughts, feelings, and actions interact to create stress. In CBT, you learn to identify and modify the negative thoughts that influence your emotions and behaviors and change the behaviors that make stress worse. CBT interventions for stress management may include the following: education on stress; cognitive restructuring/challenging negative thoughts; relaxation skills (breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery); assertiveness training; and problem-solving skills. A combination of these interventions may help you cope with stress and the recent changes in your life.
Mindfulness Therapy, also called Mindfulness-based Therapy or Mindfulness-based Interventions, like many therapies, can be used alone or with other therapies to improve stress coping. Through mindfulness, you learn how to be more mindful, present in the moment, self-aware, and self-compassionate. These are positive attributes that have shown to reduce the negative thoughts and reactions that contribute to stress and more serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy
Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), or Solution-Focused Therapy (SFT), is a commonly used treatment to help clients effectively manage stress and navigate life’s challenging transitions. It is a collaborative, strength-based, goal-directed, present and future-oriented, and inclusive approach. In SFBT, you identify your goals for therapy, focus on exceptions and coping strategies/solutions to the problem, and move forward one step at a time on your path to achieving them.
Together, we’ll personalize our sessions to best meet your individual needs for counseling. We’ll identify your goals, explore and build on your strengths and resources, and learn new strategies to help you cope with the stress as you navigate through the changes in your life.
Contact me today to schedule a free phone consultation, and let’s get connected online.
Please see additional information about my telehealth and online services at Telehealth in Florida: Online Therapy for Florida Residents with Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Trauma, and (Dis)Ability-related Issues