Experiencing transitions, or change, can bring about challenges or dilemmas that have the potential to overwhelm us and our ability to cope.
Here we share our tips for managing transitions.
At Orri, we often talk about ‘transitional phases’ in the context of changes that occur when we move out of a comfort zone, whether it be a physical place or an emotional space.
This could include moving home, going to university, transitioning between mental health services or even experiencing menopause. These all place a strain on the individual as they adjust to new lifestyles and routines.
For those who struggle with these experiences, eating disorders develop as a means of coping in uncertain environments or chapters in life. They give us a degree of certainty during a time when we would otherwise feel uncertain and unsafe.
People with eating disorders can struggle with transitions because they often come with change and uncertainty, two things that are difficult to tolerate and that reflect the opposite of an often tightly controlled eating disorder.
Change challenges what is known and what feels safe. But learning to cope with the experience of change builds resilience for future transitional experiences.
Here are three tips for managing transitions, from our Senior Occupational Therapist, Kendra:
1) Consider your locus of control
Our internal locus of control is our attitude and our behaviours. Often, we try and control those things that are external to us. Instead, think about what you could do differently that could help ease yourself into the change, and how you could personally approach it differently will help you to manage a transition.
2) Use coping skills
Use coping skills such as opposite action, soothing skills and distraction to help us to get away from ‘survival mode’, which may occur when we are highly anxious, resistant, or reactive. These soothing skills down-regulate our nervous system and help us engage more open-mindedly with challenges and change.
3) Use social support
Reach out to your support systems.
When we feel overwhelmed, anxious or uncertain of ourselves we need to use the support of others to help anchor us. Reach out to those around you who you know help you to feel grounded and safe.
These are just three suggestions that could help support you during a transition in life, such going to university or moving away from home to start a new job.
Remember, whilst change is exciting, it can be a trigger for certain patterns of behaviour. Having the best possible support system in place will help you settle in and enjoy your new life.