by Kassandra Lamb
In addition to the crispness of fall and the hint of wood smoke on cooler evenings, change is in the air at misterio press. We have a lot of new releases coming up, and new series being started by some of our authors.
Change can be both good and bad. And even good changes are stressful.
Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, authors of the very first psychological stress test, knew that. “Marriage” is #7 on their inventory with 50 adjustment points attached to it (“death of a spouse” is first with 100 pts). “Retirement” is #12 and “outstanding personal achievement” is #25 with 28 points.
Holmes and Rahe contended that anything that requires adjustment adds to our stress level, even going on vacation (#41, 13 points) which is mostly about de-stressing.
(photo by William Grimes, English Wikimedia, public domain)
The biggest adjustments of course are the life-transition ones—getting married, changing careers, moving, etc. Here are some tips for reducing the stress of such transitions:
1. Remember that even positive events can still have their down moments. If one approaches life transitions with a black and white attitude, the first thing that goes even a little bit wrong can be devastating, and can then influence your emotional view of later developments.
It’s a natural tendency when we are excited about something to be thrown for a loop if there’s a glitch. The more intense the positive emotion of anticipation, the more intense the disappointment can be if something doesn’t go just right. At such moments, we need to step back and look at the big picture. More on this in a moment.
2. Research what to expect, good and bad, and see yourself dealing with it. If it’s a big move or a new job/career, find out as much as you can about that locale or vocation. If it’s a new level of relationship commitment, do a lot of talking with your partner about how this change will affect both of you.
Why is it important to be so well informed? Because stressors that take us by surprise are a lot more stressful than those we see coming.
Then visualize yourself in the new situation; this is a form of emotional practice.
Practice makes us better, at sports and at life. (2004 Army-Navy game~public domain)
Like the athlete who practices jump shots or the back stroke, if we practice dealing with a situation in our mind’s eye, we will be better prepared for it when it becomes reality.
Imagining the challenges, payoffs and problems of the new situation will also allow us to develop some strategies ahead of time for dealing with them. One time, I took a new job that was an hour from home. It was a good opportunity, better pay, but as I contemplated the downside of that long commute, I felt my excitement eroding. I imagined myself listening to the radio. That helped some.
Then a better answer hit me. Audio books! The commute ended up being the best part of my day.
3. Realize there may still be unforeseen developments. Don’t let all this researching and imagining and advance problem-solving lull you into believing that you are ready for anything. There may still be some things you don’t foresee, good and bad, but if you are prepared for most aspects of the transition, you can focus more of your coping skills and emotional energy on the things you didn’t anticipate.
4. Be prepared to grieve, at least a little, for how things used to be. Very little is gained in this life without having to give something up. Realize that missing the freedom of single life doesn’t mean you don’t want to be married, or occasionally remembering a simpler time with nostalgia doesn’t mean you don’t want this new, more challenging job.
Life, and emotions, are more complicated than that. There are trade-offs and nothing is all good or all bad.
We don’t get these vibrant colors in Florida; the deciduous trees turn a sickly yellow or just go straight to brown. (photo by Mckelvcm CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia)
When we moved from my home state of Maryland to Florida, I found I missed the strangest things, not always the things I’d liked all that much when we lived up north. I missed the crispness of the air in the fall (humid Florida air is never crisp!) But I’d hated autumn when we lived in Maryland because the dreaded winter was right behind it.
After a couple of years of adjustment, autumn is now my second favorite season.
5. If your life transition involves another person (or persons), maintain a “we’re in this together” mentality. It’s easy to get snippy with each other if things aren’t going perfectly (again, emotions are running high). But a strategy of “we’re over here together and this thing we’re dealing with is over there” will help keep the stress of adjustment from coming between you. And it will strengthen everyone’s ability to cope.
6. Nurture your sense of adventure. If you can view life transitions as an exciting new opportunity, you’ll be in a more upbeat place to handle the transition. Being anxious tends to make us view change with suspicion and negativity.
If you can balance a realistic, “This may not go completely as planned,” with “This is gonna be great,” this new phase of your life will indeed be more great than not!
At my wedding rehearsal, Murphy’s Law was in full swing. Everything went wrong, and I ended up having a meltdown.
Mom and I intent on keeping me cool on my wedding day!
I was still crabby at the rehearsal dinner, until my mother took me aside. “You’re about to embark on the biggest adventure of your life,” she said. “Do you really want to start it in such a foul mood? Just remember no matter what might go wrong tomorrow, at the end of the day you will be married, and that’s what counts.”
Her pep talk worked as she got me to step back and look at the big picture. Several things did go wrong the next day, starting with my father tripping over my train and letting out a loud “Oops.” But instead of being embarrassed, I laughed along with everybody else!
Two of our authors have new releases that fit this theme of life transitions. And since they are murder mysteries, of course the unexpected happens early on.
Here they are, now available for preorder. I think you’ll love them; I do!
BELOVED AND UNSEEMLY, Book 5 of the Concordia Wells Mysteries, by K.B. Owen
A stolen blueprint, a dead body, and wedding bells….
Change is in the air at Hartford Women’s College in the fall of 1898. Renowned inventor Peter Sanbourne—working on Project Blue Arrow for the Navy—heads the school’s new engineering program, and literature professor Concordia Wells prepares to leave to marry David Bradley.
The new routine soon goes awry when a bludgeoned body—clutching a torn scrap of the only blueprint for Blue Arrow—is discovered on the property Concordia and David were planning to call home.
To unravel the mystery that stands between them and their new life together, Concordia must navigate deadly pranks, dark secrets, and long-simmering grudges that threaten to tear apart her beloved school and leave behind an unseemly trail of bodies.
Available for preorder on AMAZON APPLE NOOK KOBO
Or get it NOW in paperback on Amazon!
FOR PETE’S SAKE, A Pet Psychic Mystery (#4), by Shannon Esposito
A picture perfect wedding in paradise…what could possibly go wrong?
Pet boutique owner and reluctant pet psychic, Darwin Winters, is looking forward to watching her best friend and business partner, Sylvia, say “I do” to the man of her dreams. But when their wedding photographer turns up dead on the big day—and Sylvia’s superstitious mother believes his heart attack is a sign their marriage will be cursed—Sylvia’s dream wedding quickly becomes a nightmare.
Darwin only has a week to help her detective boyfriend prove the photographer’s death was not from natural causes before Sylvia’s family jets back home to Portugal, and the wedding is off for good.
As more than a few suspects come into focus—including Peter’s model clients, a rival photographer and the director of an animal shelter being investigated for fraud—time is running out. With just one clue from the photographer’s orphaned Yorkie pup to go on, can Darwin help save Sylvia’s wedding and capture a killer? Or will both justice and Sylvia’s wedding cake go unserved?
Available for preorder on AMAZON APPLE
How about you? How well do you cope with life transitions, and change in general?
Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological suspense series, set in her native Maryland, and a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida.
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