How To Successfully Navigate Big Changes In Your Life

Last updated on : June 10 2021

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Article Summary

For the most part, change is good. But, it can also be stressful - primarily if it constitutes a significant life change.

So, how can you navigate significant life changes while making your health a priority? How can you overcome stress when things feel a bit out of control?

Let’s cover a few common significant life changes and how you can work through them successfully, adopting the principles of self-love and care.

Jump to the section you want by using the links below.  

Change Happens

Taking The Next Significant Step In Your Life

  • Getting into a relationship
  • Starting a new career
  • Getting married
  • Moving
  • Buying a house 
  • Adopting a pet
  • Having kids

Receiving A Big Promotion

Going Through A Loss

Navigate Big Changes By Practicing Self-Care Every Day


Change Happens 

Life moves in a continuous forward motion. If nothing ever changed, you wouldn’t be able to grow and learn. And, for the most part, change is good. But, it can also be stressful. 

Some significant life changes are unavoidable. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic forced changes for many in their careers, home lives, and even how they take care of themselves. A 2020 survey by the American Psychological Association found that 2 in 3 adults have seen an increase in their stress levels throughout the pandemic. 

Even changes under your control, like moving, relationships, or having kids, can be challenging to navigate. From major stressors to significant life achievements, it’s easy to focus on what’s happening around you rather than how you’re taking care of your physical and mental health. 

Unfortunately, because positive and negative changes both contribute to stress, self-care is more important than ever. 

So, how can you navigate significant life changes while making your health a priority? How can you overcome stress when things feel a bit out of control? 

Let’s cover a few common significant life changes and how you can work through them successfully adopting the principles of self-love and care

Taking The Next Significant Step In Your Life

Some of the most significant changes you’ll ever go through in life will also be the most exciting. 

They are the essential components of what makes up a life story. While everyone experiences things differently, some of the giant steps you can take forward in your life include: 

While these are all positive steps forward, you can get so excited about them that you might forget to put your mental and physical wellbeing first. 

Consider buying a home, for example. It’s an exciting time and can offer you an overwhelming sense of independence. But, a 2018 survey discovered that 2 in 5 first-time home-buyers said purchasing a home was the most stressful life event they’d experienced.  

There are several things you might get stressed about when it comes to buying a home. You might start to second guess yourself or wonder if you can afford it. That can lead to cold feet, and you might think about backing out. 

Unfortunately, those “cold feet” can contribute to more stress and hurt your physical and mental health. Thankfully, you can manage your cold feet by assessing your finances, making a pros and cons list, and even speaking with a neutral third party to ask for advice. 

Another significant change listed above is adopting a pet for the first time.

If you decided to plunge into a new home, a family pet seems like the next logical step. Pets can do wonders for your physical and mental health. They encourage physical activity each day, and they can reduce your blood pressure and make you feel less stressed just by petting them. 

Pets can be a lot of work, though. In addition to making sure you have the time and energy to train one, it’s a good idea to consider things like pet insurance, especially for their first year of life. 

Some furry friends are clumsier than others. By taking as many precautions as possible, you can ease your stress levels and move forward with training your pet with a clear head. 

Receiving A Big Promotion

Happy at work

Other positive life changes can occur while you’re on the job. Plenty of Americans get badly stressed at work. So, a big promotion or a raise seems like it would be a hugely positive change. 

And, it is – on the surface. 

Unfortunately, anxiety tends to spike after a significant life achievement, leading to something called “adjustment shock.” 

Anything you go through in life, even something as extraordinary as a promotion, will feel uncomfortable because it’s new. Think of it as sleeping on brand new sheets for the first time. They might be incredibly expensive and luxurious. But, until you get used to them and become familiar with the way they feel, you might not sleep as well as you did on your old ones – even if they weren’t as great. 

Adjustment shock can cause you to feel anxious and fearful about your new situation. In some cases, that may lead to self-sabotage. In others, you might live with the stress while it causes damage to your mental and physical health. 

The best way to overcome the shock of something as prominent as a work promotion is to adjust your mindset. If you’re worried about extra responsibilities, figure out ways to manage your time and achieve a better work-life balance. If the idea of having more money seems overwhelming, look at your current budget and decide how much you can save or invest each month. 

Finding practical solutions to the things causing you stress is a great way to manage your stress levels and keep your mental health checked. 

Going Through A Loss

Some significant life changes aren’t so positive. 

2020 and 2021, especially, brought so much negative change and uncertainty. While people started paying more attention to their physical health, the mental health issues caused by COVID-19 are just beginning to surface. 

It’s not just COVID that contributes to grief. It’s losing someone or something, in general. Going through any loss in life is usually an unexpected and unwelcome change. Suffering can come from a variety of other losses, including: 

  • The death of a loved one
  • Missing out on important life events
  • Losing your job
  • A failed relationship

It should be no surprise that going through a loss can lead to symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, when you’re having a hard time coping with those symptoms, they can start to get stronger and impact other areas of your life. You might isolate yourself from family and friends, stop taking care of yourself physically, and your career may suffer. 

The best way to get through a loss of any kind is to work through the different stages of grief, from denial to acceptance. 

Keep in mind that acceptance doesn’t mean you automatically feel better about your loss. You’ll still have moments of grief. You may even slip back into moments of depressive symptoms. But, your emotional survival tactics are less likely to stick around. Instead, you’ll learn to cope in healthy ways and move forward. 

You don’t have to go through any loss on your own. It’s too big of a life change to carry on your shoulders. Reach out to loved ones, join a support group, or consider talking to a counselor or therapist. 

Navigate Big Changes By Practicing Self-Care Every Day

Girl in bath surrounded by oranges

Self-care gets a lot of attention nowadays. Unfortunately, we often see it as more of a “buzzword” than something concrete. Self-care is much more than a marketing technique or something to get you to feel good about yourself. 

It’s one of the best ways to stay mentally and physically healthy every day, no matter what significant changes you’re going through. 

Self-care looks different for everyone. It doesn’t have to consist of buying yourself expensive things or “treating yourself” to a spa day once a week. Instead, you can do little things you do for yourself each day. Some of the simplest things in life can contribute to self-care, including: 

  • Developing a healthy sleep schedule
  • Eating right
  • Exercising
  • Limiting caffeine

Setting a routine for yourself can also help you feel more in control and navigate whatever changes life throws your way. Establishing a daily routine will give you more self-confidence in whatever you’re doing.

It can also be a comfort when everything else seems to be changing quickly. Including some time for meditation or mindfulness in that routine can also help. 

When changes are happening quickly, practicing mindfulness for a few minutes each day can help you feel more centered and grounded. It will keep you focused on the present rather than worrying about what the future might hold. 

In addition to indulging in the creature comforts of everyday life, self-care can be about trying new things. 

Have you always wanted to take a dance class, but you’ve held yourself back? Have you been thinking about that trip to Europe for years? There’s no time like the present to do something you’ve always wanted to try – no matter how big or small it may be. 

And with COVID restrictions loosening in many areas of the world, travel is starting to open again.


The bottom line? Changes happen throughout life. Some will be exciting, while others might feel overwhelming. Some will be choices, and others will occur to you without warning. 

Whatever the case, learning how to navigate those changes successfully is essential. Your mental and physical wellbeing should always come first, no matter what you’re going through. 

So, give yourself the chance to pause. Take a breath, and do what’s best for you. When that remains your focus, you’ll be more capable of taking on whatever changes life throws your way. 

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