Embracing Transitions to Create Positive Change

October 20, 2020

Transitions can be incredibly challenging, especially while in recovery. Change tends to go hand in hand with discomfort, disruption of routines, and the difficult task of trying something different. I often think back to my own transition of moving to a new state and starting my job at The Renfrew Center. Although these changes were exciting, the adjustment period included a wide array of emotions and challenges.

In recovery, big transitions such as returning to work or school can be very overwhelming and rattle the foundation built in treatment. It is especially important for individuals to rely on their tools, resources, and support systems when returning to familiar environments and integrating old responsibilities back into daily life. Those environments and responsibilities may have stayed the same, but the person returning to them has newly sharpened skills to manage familiar situations differently.

Whatever the transition may be in life, it is important to remember helpful strategies for managing tough situations. When negative thoughts arise, take the steps to re-appraise those thoughts. Identify the triggers or antecedents that cause increased anxiety and establish a plan to manage those situations in advance. When feeling overwhelmed, sometimes the best thing to do is to stop, take a deep breath, and anchor into the moment. Slowing down can allow time to respond in a more helpful way rather than reacting impulsively.

Lastly, do not forget to incorporate self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and remember that all things in life and recovery become easier with practice. Embracing transitions in recovery does not mean being perfect. Recovery is not perfect, and unexpected situations will arise. Embracing transitions means tackling new challenges with confidence in your ability to tolerate the discomfort that accompanies change.


Lily Wolf, MSSA, LMSW, is a Primary Therapist at The Renfrew Center. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from The Ohio State University and her Master’s degree in Social Science Administration from Case Western Reserve University. Since Ms. Wolf began working in the treatment of eating disorders, she is thrilled to be working collaboratively with women as they learn to navigate recovery at the PHP and IOP levels.  CLICK HERE for more information about The Renfrew Center.