How to Manage Stress During Times of Transition

Laura Farkash, School Counsellor


“Transitions are those unique times when we toss off the old but have not yet stepped into the new” Bob Taibbi

I mentioned in a previous article that stress is a sign that we deeply care about something; an emotion that prepares us to keep that thing (and ourselves) safe. In periods of transition, some of our most treasured values such as social connectedness, accomplishment, and autonomy are called into question. It is unsurprising then, that when uncertainty comes knocking and safety isn’t guaranteed, it causes us stress or discomfort. At Kambala, we want our students to embrace uncertainty and discomfort and find the long-term benefit from any hiccoughs in their school journey.

A little note on uncertainty
I’ll let you in on a secret. As much as we crave certainty, we can crave uncertainty more. Briefly recall the best movie you’ve ever seen or the best book you’ve ever read, and reflect on what made it so memorable. It’s likely there were twists and turns; breath-taking, heart-stopping, jaw-dropping moments. That is the beauty of uncertainty. Have you ever experienced the heartache of someone spoiling the ending to a movie, book, or TV show you haven’t finished yet? That is the downside of certainty.

As world-famous author Neil Gaiman says, “The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard…that’s a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going.”

Look for the open doors
During times of transition, a period when old patterns are disturbed, you may feel unsteady. In reality, you are -in that moment – most malleable to change. Now is the time to explore, brainstorm and consider the possibilities before your life begins to naturally solidify into new patterns. In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a character whose job it is to fire people for companies that were downsizing. He always began his termination speech with “I’m here to talk to you about new opportunities.”

Try optimism
Often when there are blanks in expectations, we fill these spaces with imagined worst-case scenarios and consequently start fearing our imagined scenarios. Pull the reigns on catastrophising and remember that this situation is specific, not global; temporary, not permanent; and that there are aspects both out of your control and within it. Work on knowing the difference between the two and to focus on what is within your control, and recognising and accepting the things that aren’t.

Kambala is recognised as an exceptional and dynamic place of learning where girls can step out into the world confident in their capacity to make a different. Support networks at Kambala include a buddy system, peer support program, counseling services, tutor groups, clubs and interest groups and a pastoral care program that you can utilise should anything be weighing too heavily.