As we move through another season, I find myself thinking about the recent transitions in my life: dropping my kid off to college in the Midwest and planning for and experiencing my daughter getting married. There have been a lot of transitions around here lately within a short period of time.

We all go through transitions in our personal and work lives, and each change carries a certain amount of stress and uncertainty. Leaving behind the known and familiar is hard and brings stress to the forefront of our life. In our increasingly changeable world, managing these transitions is critical to our physical and mental health, as we have learned most notably from athletes, actors, and other celebrities – in addition to family members, and possibly ourselves.

We all tend to easily acknowledge stressful negative experiences like death, divorce, severe illness, or job loss, but even positive events, such as a vacation, a promotion at work, a personal achievement, or  the holidays can certainly be stressful. The initial excitement can give way to disappointment, frustration, worry, let-down, fatigue, or disillusionment. Those sound emotionally exhausting ~ and not at all happy ~ and it was for something positive!

How we choose to cope with stress has a significant impact on our health. What can we do when even positive things are happening? Stop. Breathe. Get some fresh air, go for a walk, and be PRESENT. Anticipate that there could be some stress. Most of all, give yourself a break. Expectations count. Believe in the best, but be prepared… know yourself and what you’ll need to get through to the other side. Be kind to yourself. Personally, I realized that I needed to sit with my emotions and not stifle them – and talking about them with some close family members helped immensely.

You might find the Life Changes Index Scale interesting. This list of 43 stressful life events was developed by Drs. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe who believed that the normal changes in a person’s life, from joy and happiness to sadness and upset, are all stress and can contribute to illness. The degree of stress experienced will vary from person to person depending upon the situation’s intensity, significance, unexpectedness, symbolism, and expectations. Each experience has a numerical value, and studies have shown a strong correlation to illness with high numbers, including almost 80% developing stress-related illnesses with scores of 300 or more or even 37% becoming ill with half that number within a three-to- six month period of time. If you’re curious, you can see the Life Changes Index Scale by Holmes and Rahe free online on many sites.

Change is inevitable and normal, but self-awareness and being proactive with stress-reducing actions will go a long way toward taking care of ourselves to live our best life. While we can’t control all the events of our life, we can empower ourselves to manage our responses to them. Take good care of yourself.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”         – Socrates

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”     – Maria Robinson