In psychology, adjustment is referred to as a behavioral process in which we maintain an equilibrium among our various needs while our external environment around us changes.
We all need to be comfortable in our surroundings. We all need a sense of stability and predictability. But the feeling of flux, the process in which we regain our balance, is normal. It takes a bit of time to adjust to a new situation. Even moving into a different apartment takes time for us to mentally, emotionally, and even physically adjust.
However, not all people adjust to life changes easily or quickly. For those who fail to adjust for an extended period of time, anxiety and depression can develop. If you are having trouble adjusting, it is important to get help.
Major life transitions such as moving away to college, getting married, or moving to a new job or city can initially bring feelings of excitement and adventure. However, over time the reality can end up being different than what we imagined. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety can hinder our progress to adjust and feel comfortable in our new situation. In this case, our emotions and lack of adjustment can hold us back and prevent us from realizing our full potential.
Other life changes such as divorce, the death of a spouse, or children moving away are understandably stressful.
With a major life change, there are several factors that need to be considered:
- Finances: Considering your finances usually accompanies any life change. Adjusting to a one-income household after divorce or child/spousal payments can be difficult. For a young person just moving out on their own, the reality of how much things cost can bring a feeling of shock and cause some unexpected difficulties.
- Relationships: When our life changes, our relationships change as well. When a child moves away, the dynamic changes for the entire family. With divorce or moving to a new city, we may lose relationships, or perhaps our relationships change from face to face connections to phone calls and online communication. Changes in relationships can bring stress when we no longer have the support system we once had.
- Uncertainty: When our lives change we are suddenly confronted with an uncertain future. Changes in community and relationships can leave us feeling vulnerable. While life transitions can be exciting, uncertainty can cause stress.
How mental health affects adjustment
For those who are vulnerable to issues such as depression, anxiety, or have experienced trauma in the past, adjusting to major life changes can be more difficult than expected. Even if the change is good (i.e. college, getting married, or an exciting move to a new city), it can bring up unexpected challenges. The reality of the impact of stress on how confident we feel about ourselves, and the direction of our lives, can take a toll on our wellbeing.
If you are struggling with adjusting to an expected or unexpected life change, therapy can help you feel balanced again. One of the most difficult challenges of a life transition is the loss of personal connections and support systems. In therapy, you can learn coping strategies that will make adjustment easier. An easing of stress can help you feel better and as a consequence, help you open up to social opportunities. Therapy can target underlying issues that are making it difficult to adjust and help you move forward with confidence and a feeling of empowerment.
Reach out today
If you would like to learn how therapy can help you, get in touch with Dr. Crump today by calling and book your first appointment, or fill out the contact form and click Send.