Young adults- making transitions smoother


Young adult mental health: Making transitions smoother

Early adulthood can be a stressful time with all its challenges and changes. It is a time of transition; environmentally and personally. Here, we take a look at the difficulties of these transitions and how they can be made easier.


Decisions, decisions…

Early adulthood is typically filled with big decisions regarding where to live, what to do, and how to plan for the future. Decisions regarding the next few years of one’s life can be anxiety provoking. You may be torn between ideas or unsure of what to do at all. When making these decisions, take time to process all information and feelings. Do your research early to gather information about your choices, and then give yourself some time to consciously and unconsciously process your feelings regarding these choices. During this time,  discussing your thoughts with family and friends can be helpful as it is another way to process arguments and wishes. Your family and friends could potentially provide you with new insights, but most importantly they are there to support you no matter what you choose to do. Sometimes family might have their own ideas about what you “should be doing”, it can be useful to hear these out, but ultimately you need to do what is right for you. You may feel that the consequences of your decisions are permanent, but you have to rationally remind yourself that they are not. It is okay to change your mind, and in many cases, it is perfectly possible to do so. Life is long and you have time to build new projects many times over the course of your life. We say to practice the “scale of my life” game. This is where you take an example, think to yourself, in the scale of my life, how much will this matter, and then you can make a decision. Often we find that most choices, even when they feel huge, are actually only one tiny piece of our lives.


Even positive change is stressful

Following decisions come changes. Young people are moving away from home, becoming more independent, taking on new responsibilities, making new friends and changing environment in the form of a new workplace or educational institution. Many of these changes are positive and exciting - but even so, they can be stressful and emotionally overwhelming. Perhaps the best strategy to deal with these emotions, is simply knowing they are coming. Knowing it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, in doubt, or exhausted following big changes may help you accept and manage your emotions, and it could prevent catastrophic thoughts about whether you have made the right decisions. Think about it this way.. If a friend of yours came to you and said “oh my god, I’ve decided to (take the new job, move away for university, start my own business, move out of my parents house) and I am terrified about it!” what would you say? Would you start listing all the things that could go wrong? Not likely. You would probably say “its normal to be having a meltdown about big changes, it’s going to be okay”. Telling ourselves this can be really helpful. In the beginning of a new chapter, focus your energy on making friends in your new environment (such as at your university or workplace). This will provide you with a supportive network of friends who are likely going through the same as you, and will help to normalise some of your experiences for you. 

Personal development

All of these decisions, changes, and experiences foster a lot of personal development. A person is far from fully developed at the age of 18 – we probably feel that we are continuously developing throughout life, yet at 18 we are often asked to make scary decisions about our futures. In the early adult years, people become more mature because of their increased independence and their positive and negative experiences. These experiences will also influence the development of one’s personality and opinions. Personal development is thus a rather rewarding experience. Some may say that “experiences are something you have when you no longer need them” – yes, you will continue to meet new types of challenges, but you learn transferable skills, and grow in confidence and strength, from each past experience whether it be positive or negative. And this makes new challenges, decisions, and changes easier to face. Basically what we are saying is, even if this turns out to be the wrong thing for you, you are still going to learn some important things about yourself and your needs. One day you will very likely look back on this and think, I had to do that in order to get to where I am now and it will all feel okay. For now just enjoy the process of change as much as you can, and remember, its okay to not be sure. 

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