It’s hardly surprising that some liken life to a rollercoaster with its changing pace, twists, turns, ups and downs. As you grow older you are likely to have both happy and sad times, and go through situations as bumpy as the turbulence on an aeroplane. But if you hold on, and ride out the changes that happen during your life, it will be just as fulfilling as it is exciting.

Relationship breakdown
Action points


Relationship breakdown

Going through a break-up with someone close to you can be a very difficult time – and not just for yourself, but for friends and family too. If you’re in a challenging or unstable relationship, you could think about trying ‘family mediation’. This is a way of resolving disagreements without the possible upset and expense of involving lawyers or the courts. In a typical session, everyone concerned gets together with a mediator and explains their worries and needs. Without taking sides, the mediator tries to help each person reach a compromise with one another.

Sometimes you just can’t fix a broken relationship, so you will need to think about how you’re going to manage some of the changes that lie ahead. For example, maybe you need to plan new living arrangements or sort out your finances. There are lots of organisations and support groups that offer help and advice for people who are going through a break-up – see Further information.

After a separation you may well feel a bit low, lost or lonely for some time. You might find it helpful to look back on your relationship and weigh up the positive, nurturing things with the negative and undermining features. Doing this will help you to move on and look forward to future relationships.



Deciding to remarry after a separation or following the death of your spouse can be a difficult and life-changing time for you and for your friends and family. If you have children, you may find they have some concerns about your decision to remarry. Perhaps they are worried about implications for your financial situation or your general health and wellbeing, especially if you’re going to be a carer for your new partner. Why not try having open discussions with the people close to you to talk things through thoroughly before the marriage.



Losing your job can be hard to cope with, but if you try to stay positive, you may be able to find opportunities sooner than you think. Take action by reflecting on your career and planning out your next steps both professionally and personally – this will be helpful in the long run.

If you prefer, be kind to yourself and take your mind off things for a while by doing something fun, even if it’s just listening to music, or trying a free hobby such as hiking. It’s usually much better for your mental wellbeing to do something and stay active than to do nothing.

Try to establish a routine for yourself, especially if you don’t have a structured day. For example, get up at a set time in the mornings and don’t stay in bed if you’re not asleep. You could also make a regular slot to do some exercise. Being active can boost your ‘happy hormones’ (endorphins), which help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression.

Once you have built up your confidence, start making the first steps towards employment by updating your CV. Why not think about doing some training courses or further study to broaden your skills. If you can’t find something suitable straight away, you could consider taking a part-time or temporary position until something more permanent comes along.

Organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau can help you through the redundancy process, and provide information on issues including pay, procedures and legal rights.



Depending on your circumstances, leaving work permanently can be both a positive and a negative. Maybe you’re looking forward to getting out of the office so you can do more fulfilling activities. On the other hand, you may have been forced to leave work because of ill health, family circumstances or issues with your employer.

When you retire, the change in pace may leave you feeling unsure about your future, both in terms of financial support and ways to fill your time. These feelings are quite common, in fact, about one in three people find it difficult to cope with the consequences of retirement. A good way to help yourself is to make plans for what you want to do when you retire. See it as an opportunity to try something you haven’t done before, such as:

  • volunteering for a charity or support group
  • doing more leisure activities – cooking, walking or arts and crafts
  • adopting a pet
  • getting a part-time job

If you get stuck for ideas, your employer may be able to offer you support through a retirement planning service. Community agencies like the Citizens Advice Bureau can provide useful advice about this too.

Not everyone deals with retirement in the same way. If you’re finding the transition from working life difficult, you might want to think about speaking to a professional counsellor. He or she will have plenty of suggestions to help you adjust to your new way of life, such as joining a programme to improve your assertiveness, or a yoga or tai chi class to boost your overall health and mental wellbeing. See Related topics for more information.


Action points

  • Talk things through. Speaking with someone close to you may help you think about your difficulties in a more constructive and open-minded way.
  • Eat right. It’s always tempting to tuck into unhealthy foods when you’re feeling a bit low, but if you resist and eat a healthy and balanced diet you will be able to maintain your weight and keep your energy levels up.
  • Keep active. Getting your 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity five times a week will help boost your mobility and allow you to keep your independence.   
  • Sleep well. Make sure you get a full night’s sleep so you can feel relaxed, recharged and refreshed for the new day ahead.
  • Stay positive. Taking a ‘glass-half–full’ attitude may help you stay motivated, especially in times of trouble.



Further information

    Advise now

    Citizens Advice Bureau

    0845 766 0163


  • Divorce, relationship breakdown and family courts. Directgov., accessed 3 June 2010
  • Family mediation. Advice now., published 3 June 2010
  • Loneliness. Mind., accessed 3 June 2010
  • Relationship problems. Mind., accessed 3 June 2010
  • Life-changing events. Merck Online Medical Library., published December 2008
  • Personal communication, Dr Lars Davidsson, Consultant Psychiatrist, Spire Wellesley Hospital Southend, 13 July 2010
  • Sleeping well. Royal College of Psychiatrists., accessed 2 June 2010
  • Exercise and depression. Mental Health Foundation., published 11 December 2008
  • Redundancy. Advice guide: online advice from Citizens Advice., accessed 13 July 2010
  • Preparing for retirement. Citizens Advice Bureau., accessed 7 June 2010
  • Healthy living. British Nutrition Foundation., accessed 7 June 2010

Related topics

Healthy eating
How to get a good night’s sleep
Tai chi

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