Change is an unavoidable part of life. Nothing is going to stay the same, not even you. But change is hard. It makes us uncomfortable and it forces us to deal with things in our lives that we may be trying to ignore.
Yet, without change, we wouldn’t grow. Change brings us new people, adventures, perspectives, knowledge, and skills that enrich our lives. They become the stories that make up who we are. Reframing how we think about change can have a positive impact on how we manage stress. Whatever the trigger is, our relationship with it can be transformed for the better.
- Recognize the change. The worst thing you can do when a change is occurring is to ignore it. Acknowledge that a change is occurring. Acknowledge your emotions about this change. Try to understand the root causes of this change. Ask yourself, “Why is this change happening?”.
- How much can you control? Once you understand that there is a change underway and why this change is occurring, ask yourself, “How much control do I have in this situation?”. Your personal power remains your biggest ally. You may not be able to control the change itself, but you always have control your response to it.
- Focus on the positive. All change (even the worst ones) brings some good. Ask yourself, “How do I (or someone I love) benefit from these changes?”. Even the harshest of changes bring about residual changes that can be beneficial.
- Accept & Reframe. You are a success not in spite of the changes that have occurred, but because of them. Accept who you are, accept that life is unfolding around you all the time and precisely because of that, whatever the situation is currently will not always be. As you are going through the changes, keep saying to yourself, “It is fun to learn new things.”
- Coping skills. Even while reframing change to see the positive, the reality remains that change can be traumatic. The best tools to help you deal with this trauma are support and self-care. Reach out to those who you love and trust; engage in nurturing activities that make you feel good—maybe taking long walks in nature, or ending the day with a book and a bath. Maybe for you spending time with your dog lifts you up—whatever puts a smile on your face is what you need to lean on in times of upheaval. Doing what you need to do for yourself is always the right answer, especially when times get tough.
- Baby steps to change. In instances where you have some control over the process, break down the change into tangible steps that can be implemented little by little. In this way you have a chance to get used to the change at a slower pace, and can thereby avoid being shocked into the new reality.
- Meditation & Visualization. Along the lines of self-care, a powerful tool I use to help me cope with changes is meditation and visualization. A few minutes of sitting quietly and clearing your mind can help to calm your nerves. Visualize your reaction to the change. Imagine yourself calmly receiving new information, taking whatever necessary actions needed with grace and courage. Send light to any individuals who may be causing you distress during this time. These grounding exercises mentally and spiritually fortify you to deal with any challenges that come your way as a result of change.
Above all, keep in mind that you are not alone in this reality. While you cannot do anything to prevent change, you can empower yourself to deal with changes in the least damaging way. Reframing how you see change, and being conscious of your own actions and reactions, will help to manage your own stress during difficult times. Remember, exactly because change is a universal truth, nothing, no matter how bad it all seems, will stay that way forever. There is always tomorrow!