While a lot of major life changes are exciting, we often forget how stressful they are and
the impact they can have on our emotional well-being. The lists of what are considered to be the
top most stressful events are inconsistent, but there are some repeated topics listed. On this list
are some experiences that would be considered positive, and they have managed to make it to the
top of some of these most stressful life experiences. Marriage, moving, reconciliation of a
marriage, promotions in a job, grad school, birth of a child, starting your own business. These are
all amazing things to get to experience but are listed on the same lists as death of a family
member, terminal illness diagnosis, loss of a job, and so on. We tend to forget to allow ourselves
to experience what we are feeling during these life changes. We tell ourselves how wonderful
these changes are and that any negative thoughts will reflect a lack of enthusiasm. Reminder, feel
your feelings. Moving is stressful! Having a new baby can be ongoing stress for months and
months. This does not mean that the experience isn’t amazing and exciting, but it is stressful and
that is okay!

Now let’s explore these stressors our from the psychological side of things. What are you
really experiencing when going through these life changes? It is important to remember that
stress to the body is still stress, positive or negative. Your heart rate can elevate, your muscles
will get tense, you are focused, maybe feeling a little scared or anxious. Overall, stress is neutral,
it does not care what you are going through, it just knows you are stressed. While it is important
to allow yourself to experience what you are experiencing, it is also important to focus on the
goal and remind yourself to see the stress as positive stress. While your body will not change the
reaction to stress, reminding yourself that this is a positive experience, this is positive stress, can
help adjust your mindset and mental state. Reminding yourself that the stress is positive is not
intended to discount your feelings or have you put those feelings aside, always allow yourself to
feel, but remember to label the feelings appropriately. Over time you will feel the physiological
changes and be able to pinpoint what you are going through. Mind body connection is important
in all life experiences.

We will now take a look at the adjustment to the new changes. Often times in new life
experiences people can develop temporary adjustment disorder, or just difficulties with adjusting
to the changes. This is all okay, and very common, also it is treatable. An adjustment disorder is
the physical, emotional, or behavioral reaction to a major life event or change in a person’s life.
The adjustment challenges can come on up to 3-6 months after the event, and for children it can
look like behavioral challenges such as acting out, but for adults it would look like sadness,
crying, increased worry, changes in sleep patterns. If you are experiencing these symptoms after
a major life change reach out to your therapist to discuss your experiences. If treated, these
symptoms can begin to resolve, if they are not treated, they can turn into ongoing depression or
even more serious psychological challenges. If you are going through a major life change
remember to allow yourself to express your feelings, positive or negative, practice self-care, listen to your body, deal with the changes in your own terms, be mindful and kind to yourself,
and find support.