Emerging Adult

Navigating the Complexities of the Emerging Adult Period & Tips to Combat The Stress: A Psychologist’s Expertise

Dr. Elisheva Jakobov-Assouline

As a licensed clinical psychologist with a specialization in emerging adults, I am well acquainted with the various challenges individuals face during this stage in life. The emerging adult period is a time of profound change and growth, however, it can also lead to stress and anxiety for many. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the unique hurdles that emerging adults often encounter as well as tips to overcoming these challenges.

Here are many common struggles emerging adults often face:

1. Exploring Identity: Emerging adults grapple with profound questions about their identity, values, and aspirations. While no longer a child who may be doing things out of habit, young adults are faced with the opportunity to explore who they are, would like to become, as well as their hopes and dreams for the future. Facing such questions can often lead emerging adults to experience intense stress, confusion, worry, and uncertainty.

Tip: If you are struggling with your identity, embrace self-discovery through journaling, selfreflection, and seeking new experiences. Take the time to date yourself and get to know yourself better. Try to reflect on your present self and where you would like your future self to be. Then, challenge yourself to fill the gap by taking the necessary steps to get to what you envision for your future self. It may also be helpful to seek out role models or mentors who have navigated similar identity explorations successfully. Hearing success stories may give you the confidence and hope you need to navigate through these difficult questions and realize you aren’t alone in your struggle.

2. Career uncertainty: Often, individuals during this stage report difficulty regarding what career path they would like to take.

Tip: While you may not have the answer, broadening your horizons will bring you one step closer to making a decision. It is important to network and consider internships or mentorship opportunities from those you trust and value. Do not forget to ask yourself what am I incredibly passionate about? What are the things that energize me and make me feel satisfied, productive, and happy? Answering these questions will hopefully help narrow the many options you may be debating between.

3. Academic Pressures: Academic excellence is often prioritized during the emerging adult stage. While dedication to education is essential, it shouldn’t come at the expense of your physical and mental well-being.

Tip: To ensure you maintain a healthy balance between prioritizing your academics and your well being, learning how to manage your time effectively is key. Set realistic goals and seek academic support when needed. Try letting go of perfection. Rather than obsessing over an assignment, set aside a reasonable amount of time to get the task done with no distractions around (do not disturb setting on your phone is a game changer). Once the time is up, simply click submit and send in your assignment. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Even if you don’t get an A on the assignment, you most likely will pass the course.

4. Financial strain: Emerging adults are entering a world of responsibilities filled with bills, loans, and are trying to achieve financial independence. To many, financial budgeting may be a new reality they have to face. Many individuals (regardless of this period) have not been taught financial literacy and are suddenly left to grasp and learn it on their own which can be overwhelming.

Tip: If you are struggling financially, educate yourself with financial management. Try dedicating time each week to set up a weekly budget. Look into Apps such as Mint or PocketGuard that can help. Listen to podcasts about this topic. Beyond budgeting, consider the importance of building an emergency fund, understanding different types of investments, and setting long-term financial goals. It is never too early to start that.

5. Relationship difficulties: Relationships can be a source of both joy and turmoil. Establishing and maintaining healthy relationships, including friendships, romantic relationships, and professional relationships takes work. Emerging adults can experience challenges in communicating and resolving conflict efficiently and respectfully.

Tip: It is essential to develop good communication skills, to practice active listening, and to set healthy boundaries with those around you. Consider speaking to a therapist trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy who can teach you some Interpersonal skills if you find yourself struggling with your relationships.

6. Mental Health Disorders: Due to the myriad changing factors and pressures taking place in this stage, emerging adults often report feelings of anxiety and depression amongst other mental health disorders.

Tip: Taking care of your mental well-being is crucial. Practice self-care, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Relaxation techniques like mindfulness and deep breathing can also help reduce anxiety. Look into Calm or Headspace apps that may be beneficial. In addition to practicing self-care, try to ensure that you are regularly taking care of your physical health. Make sure you are eating well, staying hydrated, and incorporating exercise into your lifestyle. The mind and body are intertwined. By positively caring for one, you can in turn impact the other for the better and vice versa.

7. Substance Exploration: Experimentation with substances is a common facet of emerging adulthood. The desire to explore new experiences and social environments can lead to risky behaviors and disrupt your functioning.

Tip: Make informed choices about substance use, seek support for addiction from a specialist, attend support groups, and find healthier coping strategies such as talking to friends, going for a run, or any activity that makes you feel calm and happy.

8. Family Dynamics: Striking a balance between nurturing relationships with parents and other family members can be a complex task. Emerging adults often find themselves torn between the need for autonomy and the desire to maintain strong family bonds.

Tip: Try to assert your needs and set realistic expectations. If you feel like dynamics with your family are becoming unhealthy, perhaps step away temporarily until you are in a better headspace to address those you love.

In conclusion, the journey through emerging adulthood is a period of immense personal growth and transformation, yet it can feel complex and at times isolating. As a specialized clinical psychologist, I find it really rewarding to assist emerging adults in surmounting these multifaceted challenges. Together, we can work to ensure that you can navigate this critical phase with confidence and resilience, setting the stage for a fulfilling and successful adulthood. Feel free to share your thoughts and comment below. If you or a loved one you know is struggling with any emerging adult related issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support. It would be my pleasure to help you navigate this journey together.

Dr. Aryeh Berlin is a New Jersey licensed clinical psychologist and founder of Aspire Psychological Group. Dr. Berlin has vast clinical training experiences including a residential adolescent addiction treatment center in Israel, community mental health centers, and youth detention centers. Dr. Berlin has lectured on parenting children with emotional and behavioral difficulties, child development, helping children with school-related challenges and trauma. Audiences included attorneys, mental health professionals, parents, and educators.

Emerging Adult