Depression: How To Cope When There’s An Upheaval In Our Lives

Whether upheaval is due to a positive change, or due to difficult circumstances, it can be overwhelming and unsettling. We may feel as though we’re not sure whether we’re coming or going and it can take a while for the dust to settle. Upheaval is particularly difficult when we’re experiencing a mental illness.

Depression: How To Cope When There's An Upheaval In Our Lives

Causes Of Upheaval

Upheaval is when we experience a sudden change or disruption our lives. It can be a planned positive change; we might move into a home we’ve been hankering after, for example. We might be heading off to university – whether we’re heading there straight from school, or we’re going to study as a mature student. It could be that we’ve changed jobs. We might have a new addition to the family – a baby, a pet, an adopted family member, or a new spouse.

Some upheaval might be related to the natural ebb and flow of life; our little one could be going to school for the first time, financial, social and societal upheaval, or we’re returning to work after a period of absence.

There are also sources of upheaval which are less happy and more painful; bereavement,  chronic, or terminal illness might affect our family. There are all sorts of life events that can leave us feeling like we’ve had the rug pulled from beneath our feet.

It Can Generate Different Emotions

Upheaval can generate many different emotions. This can include, but isn’t limited to, anger, anxiety, apathy, feeling tearful, low mood, a sense of losing control, excitement, hopefulness, hopelessness, and isolation.

Often, we berate ourselves for how we feel. The ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ come out. We tell ourselves that we ‘should’ be feeling a certain way or we ‘shouldn’t’ be feeling something else. There are often times when we might tell ourselves to ‘get it together’, ‘stop being so stupid’, and ‘just get on with it’.

Upheaval is hard, whatever the situation. We can’t help how we feel, and we’re allowed wavering emotions. As humans, we’re unique individuals and it’s natural that we might react to things in different ways.

Slow Down

When we feel stressed or anxious, as we often do when there’s an upheaval in our lives, we often automatically speed up. The build-up of anxiety, stress, and worry, can cause us to feel like we have lots to do, it all needs doing as soon as possible, and if we stop (even for a second), then our entire world will come crashing down around us.

It’s incredibly counter-intuitive to slow down, but slowing down is something that can really help. Upheavals are exhausting. All sorts of different emotions are whizzing around, and at times it can almost feel like we have emotion-whiplash from going up and down, backwards and forwards so many times. On top of that, we have to get used to lots of new things. Big changes in our lives can take a lot of getting used to, our brains have a lot of information to process, and it’s exhausting!

Slowing down can give our body and mind the time they need to get used to everything going on for us. It can allow things to settle. Additionally, it can mean that we have more time to slot in some self-care – something that’s absolutely vital when we’re going through a difficult patch.


Upheaval can make life feel incredibly busy and all out of sorts. When this happens, it’s really important that we continue to make time for self-care, no matter how busy we are. It might come quite far down our to-do list when we’re busy, and some of us might feel as though it’s selfish to make time for self-care when we have so many other things going on. But self-care isn’t selfish. It’s not something we should just ‘skip’ when life gets busy. It’s an essential tool to help us to recuperate, to enable us to be the best that we can be and to do all of the things we want to do.

[This Free Downloadable A4 Self-Care Planner Sheet might help you to plan in some self-care.]

Depression: How To Cope When There's An Upheaval In Our Lives

Find An Outlet

With lots of changes going on, we’re likely to experience a lot of different emotions. It’s important that we find an outlet for these emotions, otherwise, they can build up and become difficult to cope with. This outlet could be anything at all that gives us a safe release.

For some of us, it could be something creative – painting, drawing, playing with clay, or baking. Other people might prefer a more physical release through sports teams, running, walking or cycling. We could also try writing, talking to people, going on a drive, or have a chat with our pet. There are lots of different ways to chill out and release our emotions, and different things will work for different people.

Reach Out

When we have big changes going on, we can often forget about all of the different people we have around us, which can lead to us feeling really isolated. We might begin to feel like people just don’t understand what’s going on with us any more, or that we’ve left some people behind in our ‘old life’.

Whether we see them or not, we do normally have people around us who love us and want to help us. At times of upheaval, it can be particularly important to remember these support networks and to use them as much as we can. There’s never a worry too small when it comes to talking about things.

There are usually professionals who can help us, too. If we’ve moved to a new area, it’s important to register with a local GP. Depending on our situation, there might be charities available to support us with whatever the upheaval is that we’re experiencing. There could also be teachers or lecturers, peers, colleagues, other parents, mental health practitioners, and many more people who are able to support us.

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