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Updated: Jun 25, 2023

It's the end of August and there are a lot of transitions happening around us. Summer vacations are wrapping up and the new school year is beginning. Some people are going "back to school" in the literal sense of going back to the school building they attended during the previous school year. Others are going away to a new location for high school, college, graduate school and beyond. Let's not forget the recent high school and college graduates, returning from summer vacation to the realities of job hunting and having to settle in to a new normal. Or people making career changes, retiring, and so much more.

One definition of the word 'Transition' that stands out to me is from the Cambridge Dictionary (English Version), which describes a transition as "a change from one form or type to another, or the process by which this happens". Transitions are unavoidable in life. It is almost certain that we will go through multiple periods and types of transition, sometimes more than one happening at the same time. Transitions also come with mixed emotions, sensations and thoughts that may impact overall functioning.

I believe many people minimize the process and change that transitions require. People are unprepared or set very high expectations for themselves, without acknowledging these elements. When we acknowledge the process involved and possible changes that we would need to make to thrive and succeed during a transition, we allow ourselves room for flexibility, empathy, imperfection, and grace, and also allow growth in our lives.

It is not possible to predict every single aspect of what a new school year will bring or what the first day at a new job would look like. However, worrisome and anxious thoughts create false feelings of security that make us think these predictions (which are usually negative) will come true. Some transitions may also trigger symptoms of acute stress, depression, irritability, and even behavioral changes in children, teens, and adults alike. When we begin to notice signs that something may be "off", it's usually helpful to check in with the question, "What has changed in my life in the last 3-6 months"? This could be an important starting point to acknowledge the transition that has occurred, process how it may be impacting emotions or behaviors, and identify helpful ways of coping.

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