Transition Stress & Coping with the Unknown

Transition Stress & Coping with the Unknown

Transitions and dealing with uncertainty can be anxiety-inducing, daunting, and may even seem perilous. For instance, on a global scale, who would have thought that the year 2020 would have been the year for a full-scaled pandemic to commence? Further to this point, who would have postulated that the pandemic would have progressed and morphed two years later into an endemic? I assume not many.

You may be dealing with internal, external, immediate, or lingering pressures, many of which may not have a clearly defined path and subsequently, leaving you in a state of uncertainty. You are not alone.

However, I want to pause because life is full to the brim with ambivalence and uncertainty.

Think about it for a second, the last time you were embarking on a transition, how did you approach it? Did you devise a plan to assuage any uncomfortable emotions or thoughts that may have come to fruition? Perhaps you circled through various scenarios to mitigate any and all fears. Regardless of tactic(s) used, take into consideration, when life went precisely according to plan for you. Perhaps there were a few times when life did pan out exactly as you thought, but does that always occur? Most likely, not, but that is okay. We are not meant to know everything, to have all knowledge, or to be aware of future events.

Instead, we can choose to be cognizant that we knew the past, we are aware and in the present moment, and accept that the future will unfold accordingly. We accept. Not all moments in the future that are uncertain, now, may be associated with unpleasant emotions and thoughts. Perhaps there were moments of transition that were infused with heralding growth, exploration, and even excitement, for you. Hence, what would happen if you embraced uncertainty? If this is not the case for you, then here are some coping skills to help you through transition stress and coping with the unknown.

A valuable tenant that can help reduce unpleasant emotions and thoughts includes mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and aware of oneself (e.g., emotions, somatic sensations, and thoughts) without judgment. You may be wondering, “how does this help me?” Well, when engaging the self in the present moment, your mind is no longer focusing on the “what-if’s” associated with the unknown parallels of the future. Your sole focus is grounded in being central—to the present—therefore you are increasing your awareness, but also your acceptance. You may find your consciousness wander to notions of the past or even to scenario(s) of the future, by gently, and without judgment, bringing your mind back to your current state you are practicing mindfulness.

Here are some resources to help you engage in the practice of mindfulness:

Meditation is the practice of mindfulness, whereby one increases and enhances awareness as well as attention. Provided below is some literature written by Melody Beattie who is a self-help writer and whose website provides daily meditations. Furthermore, are two YouTube links to guided meditations to help you navigate on your journey into mindfulness.

Daily Meditations:

Guided Meditation & Breathing Exercise:

Guided Body Scan: