Change happens. Be prepared with a resilient mindset.
Our lives are a series of transitions. The weekend eventually ends and Monday comes. We get married. Summer becomes fall. Vacation ends and we have to go back to work. We happily anticipate milestones such as graduating from college, getting a job or buying a new house. But once an experience ends, our mood can take a dip.
Is it possible to navigate change with a sense of resilience while remaining happy? The experts weigh in:
1. Realize transitions are a matter of perspective
“There is no such thing as positive or negative transition; it fully depends on the way you think,” says Michael Mantell, Ph.D., a San-Diego based psychologist and the author of Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: P.S. It’s All Small Stuff.
“If it weren’t for transitions, we wouldn’t move, change, be agile or face new opportunities … So I never, ever regret having to return to work. Instead, I always think, ‘Wow, what a great vacation this work gave me the opportunity to take, and how grateful I am for the vacation and the job.’ ” If you dread coming back to work, you are setting yourself up for depression and anxiety, he says.
Susan Fletcher, Ph.D., a Dallas-based psychologist, says accepting life’s inevitable ups and downs can make transitions easier. “Peaks and valleys are to be expected,” the Working in the Smart Zone author says. “That doesn’t mean the good times are always vacation and the bad times are everything else. Even on vacation, we can have the same kind of stress we have in our ordinary life.”
The key, Susan says, is knowing what works for you. “I need one full day to power down to go on vacation, so I don’t ever take a 6 a.m. flight to get the most out of vacation because then I am worthless when I get there.” Instead, she schedules midday flights and makes the journey part of the experience, stopping for lunch with her kids, playing cards on the plane and preparing to have fun when they arrive.
The same is true at the end of the trip: If you need to, take a day to decompress and do laundry, buy groceries and open mail instead of returning the night before you go back to work.