Are Transitions Causing You Stress and Anxiety this Summer?

Are Transitions Causing You Stress and Anxiety this Summer?
June 16, 2016 David Shanley, Psy.D.

Are transitions causing you stress and anxiety this Summer?

Summer is upon us, and it is supposed to be a fun time to get out in the sun, relax, and enjoy ourselves. For some though, Summer also brings with it a time of transition that can be stressful or anxiety provoking. Perhaps you are out of school, starting a different job, not working, moving, or just not ready for the heat.

Whatever the transition, change can be difficult, and lead to anxiety and stress. If this is happening to you, the first thing to do is stop, take a deep breath, and give yourself a break. Remember, it is ok to feel how you feel. You don’t need the extra burden of beating yourself up for feeling down, lonely, sad, anxious, or stressed. These are natural emotions that we all experience, so try to take a moment and just acknowledge how you feel.

Next, it is a good idea to check in with yourself to see why you are making this transition. Is this in pursuit of something you care about? Are you spending time with new people and making new connections? Are you taking a new class and learning something new? Perhaps you are starting a new job that you always thought could be interesting, but now you are worried about how difficult it might be. Hopefully you are transitioning into something for a reason to pursue a value of yours, whether it’s social connection, learning, or adventure. If this is the case, identify the value and put your whole heart and energy into it this Summer in order to get the most out of the experience. Don’t let anxiety hold you back.

If, on the other hand, the transition has been thrust upon you by the nature of your circumstances, this is where acceptance and action come into play. Acceptance is the willingness to take an open stance towards how you feel about the things that are out of control in your life. So, if your seasonal job has ended and now you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands, be sure to reflect on your values that led you to take the job in the first place, and try to foster some acceptance for the nature of the difficult circumstances that this must come to an end.

Acceptance is not an end goal in itself, but it frees us to put down the struggle with our emotions, and instead direct our energy into some productive action. So, now that you understand your circumstances and have made peace with them, what are the next steps to getting back on track with something you care about? Do you need to find a new hobby? Hike the Colorado trail? Go on a road trip? Find a volunteer opportunity or a Summer camp to work at?

The more you can make peace with your emotions, especially during stressful transitions, the better off you will be for taking on new challenges and getting the most out of new experiences. Not all transitions have to be bad, even if they are upsetting at first. Find the support you need and don’t waste a day not going after something to improve your life!

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