Dramatic changes to your life can result in extremely high levels of stress. Here are some of those stressors and how you can healthfully take them on.
Life is full of stressors. Some of them, like spilling your morning coffee, are so easy to handle that they practically resolve themselves. Others, like the loss of a loved one, require deep soul-searching and hard work in order to push forward. It seems like it would be nice to live an utterly frictionless life, one completely devoid of stress and stressors. But facing these challenges, big and small, and doing our best to overcome them is part of what it means to be human. With any luck, we emerge from these stressors stronger and more emotionally and spiritually developed than before. Here are some of the most stressful life events and how to handle them as best you can.
Death of a Loved One
Losing a parent, child, or spouse may well represent the biggest shock to your system imaginable. On the Holmes-Rahe stress inventory, which assigns numerical values to life stressors, death of a spouse ranks first overall with death of a family member in fifth. In handling loss, you mustn’t be afraid to mourn and grieve fully and properly, rather than harmfully bottling your emotions, and find ways to honor your loved one’s memory.
With the death of a spouse far and away the highest stressor, the Holmes-Rahe scale ranks divorce a close second. Both result in the loss of your life partner with the attendant unfulfillment of emotional, social, and financial needs. In such a difficult time, don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends for emotional support as you build yourself back up. Both therapeutic and legal counseling may be necessary as well.
A new home, especially in a new city, represents a significant disruption to your daily routine and your sense of place. In addition to the stress of the relocation itself, moving often carries additional stressors, like a new job, a new school for the kids, and changes in social groups, which can be so overwhelming as to make the hard work of boxing up and heading out almost unfathomable. Look for tips to make the relocation process itself less stressful so that you can concentrate on tackling the many other stressors that attend relocation.
The loss of a job not only has financial implications, it also affects your interpersonal relationships that depended on the workplace. Even in difficult economic times where layoffs and business closures are all too common, it’s difficult not to take job loss as a personal blow. For many people, what they do is a big part of who they are. In extreme cases, they may even identify themselves only by their work. Losing this sense of identity can be almost impossible to reckon with. Before taking a personal inventory, make sure your household expenses are accounted for. Take time to reflect and recharge before seeking new employment, and then try to maintain a daily routine without backsliding into late nights, sleeping in, and a harmful loss of structure. Like many approaches to stressful life events and how to handle them, you must strike a delicate balance of knowing when to step back and when to keep moving forward.