I recently experienced a significant life change (moving) that has made me reflect on the impact of change and how important it is to know how to cope with change. Sometimes changes are things we anticipate or look forward to, like going away to college or getting married. Maybe it is getting a new and exciting job. Even if the change is a positive one, it does require us to make significant life shifts.
Change is a lot harder when it has a negative outcome or we do not anticipate the change, such as being laid off from our jobs, losing a loved one, or being diagnosed with a life altering illness. Oftentimes, when these types of changes occur, we can sometimes resist having to make these changes, mostly because we are not prepared for them or do not want to deal with them in our lives.
So, what do we do?
The first thing to do is simply acknowledge things are changing or have changed. For some of us, we are more likely to resist change, resulting in a greater struggle. Denial that change is happening may initially be a protective force in dealing with it, however, it is more effective to say to yourself, “Things have changed and it is okay.”
Secondly, realize that it is completely normal to feel stress during periods of change. Stress is how our body reacts to something new, even when it is a good thing. One of the best examples of this is when you become new parents. It is a wonderful thing to have a baby, but it is a very stressful life event that can feel overwhelming, with the potential for postpartum depression and anxiety.
Good self-care is essential during times of change. Make sure the you do all you can to maintain a routine, eat as healthy as you can, and get some exercise. You will feel a lot better physically and emotionally when you are taking good care of your self.
Another way to cope with change is to recognize and acknowledge the positive things that are happening because of these changes. Maybe you have met people that will become a new friend or maybe you are more open to things you weren’t before. Maybe you have grown in ways that you never thought possible, physically, mentally, emotionally or even spiritually. Look for the good.
Finally, seek support. Changes can be very difficult, often triggering feelings of isolation, anxiety and depression. If you find yourself in a situation where you are having difficulty adjusting to the changes you are experiencing, reach out for help. Talk to a trusted friend or family member or counselor. We all struggle at times, so it is okay to ask for help. Making connections with other people is one of the best ways to help during a period of adjustment.
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