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TCK Training – Coping with Change

Tanya Crossman from TCK Training on Coping with Change

On October 24th, 2023, GIS welcomed Tanya Crossman from TCK Training to equip our community in better understanding and dealing with transition in the seminar ‘Coping with Changes.’ The seminar explored how our minds and bodies respond to seasons of change, and offered valuable insights into helping families navigate these transitions more smoothly.

During this seminar, Tanya Crossman delved into the relationship between change and transition to help people understand how to adapt to unfamiliar situations when life undergoes significant shifts. The seminar covered three main categories: 

  1. Change, transition, and limbo
  2. How change impacts the body
  3. What we need during transitions


Change, transition, and limbo

Living in limbo is when you can’t settle in because you don’t know when your situation will change. It is an uncertain period of waiting and being caught in two seasons of life. When you come out of limbo, you face change.

It is important to know that ‘change’ is an event while ‘transition’ is a process. When we talk about ‘change’, we are talking about a clear line differentiating between two states. Transition, on the other hand, is preparing for that change before it happens and adapting to it afterward. Therefore, transition can be described as a period when change is in process, or the time it takes for the new to become normal. Sometimes we might not start transitioning until months or even years after the change happens because we did not have the space and capacity to deal with it earlier. This is common when it comes to sudden transitions during a crisis or emergency.

There are two different stages of transitions happening: letting go of the old and adjusting to the new. And there’s never just one change happening. Every difference, big or small, affects our lives, from finding out where to buy groceries to figuring out how to get to school. 

How change impacts the body

We may not realize it, but much of our life is on autopilot—we automatically know what to do or where to go because we are used to our surroundings and routines. After a big change, we lose our automatics. In transition, we have to create new routines for everything. Now, we must think consciously about every detail of life—that is exhausting and impacts our bodies in many ways. 

These are symptoms of living in transition:

  • Tense muscles
  • Racing heart
  • Clouded thinking
  • Get less done
  • Forget things
  • Weight gain
  • Chest tightness
  • Sleep more
  • Often tired
  • Irritable
  • Wake often
  • Feel numb/tried
  • Short fuse
  • Feel on alert
  • Feel isolated
  • Feel anxious


You experience these symptoms because when you are in transition, your body constantly adapts new information (navigating new places, picking up new skills, learning new ways of life). Adrenaline courses as your body perceives these changes as a form of threat. This puts you in a constant state of heightened alert as you try to adjust to unfamiliar stimuli. In this state, adrenaline transforms into cortisol, which keeps you in a state of stress. While short periods of stress are normal, there can be negative long-term health impacts on your body if your cortisol levels do not decrease after 3-6 months. That’s why it is important to know how to wind down.

What we need during transitions

The body is not designed to remain in a high state of stress for a long period of time, and so we need relief from chemical stress through wind down. During transitions, we need extra rest, extra kindness, extra patience, and new repetitive routines to give us a sense of normality and comfort. We can take proactive steps in resetting our body chemistry to control our hormones. These steps are:

  • Deep breathing
  • Physical relaxation
  • Mental relaxation
  • Social connection


Deep breathing is something that we can do anywhere and at any time. You take five slow, deep breaths every few hours to reset your mind and body. This works well with both adults and children. 

Physical and mental relaxation can be achieved through activities and hobbies such as journaling, exercising, or taking a shower. Physical and mental relaxation is different for everyone, so it is important for each individual to find out how they best relax. For many people, it will have something to do with the five senses, such as smelling something nice while spending time with nature. 

Then there is social connection because being with and laughing with people tells our brains that we are safe. We tell our brains that we don’t have to be on chemical alert because we feel safe. Laughing is also one of the best things we can do to break the cycle of stress! It resets your breathing and relaxes your muscles. 

It is important to gain a deeper understanding of transition challenges and acquire personalized strategies to make these transitions smoother for you and your family.

Below is a list of books and resources for further reading. You may also connect with TCK Training through email and major social media channels.

Raising Up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids: A Practical Guide to Preventive Care: https://www.amazon.com/Raising-Generation-Healthy-Third-Culture-ebook/dp/B085VRX2LM

The Grief Tower: A Practical Guide to Processing Grief with Third Culture Kids: https://www.amazon.com/Grief-Tower-Practical-Processing-Culture-ebook/dp/B08TRWY12R

Unstacking Your Grief Tower: A Guide to Processing Grief as an Adult Third Culture Kid:

The Practice of Processing: Exploring our emotions to chart an intentional course: https://www.amazon.com/Practice-Processing-Exploring-emotions-intentional/dp/B09YQR7K4J

Email: info@tcktraining.com

Website: www.tcktraining.com
Social Media: @tcktraining