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How well do you handle change?

Handle Change

Happy Friday to all-

This week I thought we could discuss change. With the beginning of any new year, a lot of people decide to make changes to their life. Some of those changes are monumental and require quite a bit of adjustment, while others are small, almost nonconsequential and require very minimal adjustment. Regardless of whether you would define the change as good or bad, monumental or nonconsequential, it often times can cause stress and leave people wondering how to better handle the situations. It’s important to always remember however to take some positive steps in order to maintain your overall health through those changes.

According to Psychology Today in an article entitled, “10 Ways to Cope With Big Changes” written in January of 2017, they list out 10 different ways that you can view the changes happening in your life and better cope with the stressors that may accompany them. We will not get into all 10 of the ways, but I will mention several that I think might be able to help. No matter who we are, I promise, at some point in your life you will encounter change but how you view that, embrace it, and ultimately handle it, depends on you.

I like to refer to the idea of major change as like moving through the steps of grief. When you lose someone you care about, you may encounter: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance. The same holds true for some who encounter change, moving from one stage to another. The important thing is to try to make your way to acceptance so that you don’t end up holding yourself back from what might ultimately be beneficial. Often times individuals have a hard time moving to a point of acceptance because they don’t have control over that change, however for those who initiated the change themselves, sometimes it could be that they miss their old way of doing things.

Like I mentioned above however, not all change is bad. With the beginning of the new year, we may decide that we want to start eating healthier, which would dictate some big changes often times. We may decide that we want to go back to school and finish or obtain a degree, this also would be considered a big change. How do we then take the inevitable changes in our lives and view them with a healthier outlook?

  1. Understand that most change in our life is inevitable. I always used to tell my children that if we stay in one place too long, we will grow mold. I used humor with them to help express the point that change was good and in fact a healthy way to progress in life. If we are too afraid to move forward, we will only stand still and eventually move backwards. Try to be open to the idea of change and picture the positives that will come out of it.
  2. List out all of the positives of the change. It can be very easy to focus in on the negative of any situation, but particularly one where unexpected change may be required of us. Instead of focusing in on the aspects of the change you may not like, make a list of the good that will come out of it and try to remind yourself of that list each time you feel a negative emotion surfacing about the change.
  3. Remember to maintain some of your regularly scheduled activities through the transition. When there is a lot of change going on in your life, look for the constants and not the variables. If you normally walk your dog in the morning or normally sit and watch the news while drinking coffee in the morning, try to keep those the same. If you are interested in making a change which involves changing your diet or exercise routine, make it a point to still hold onto one thing that is always the same like that mug of coffee in the morning or a Sunday morning where you relax while watching your favorite tv program.
  4. Make sure that you are maintaining a healthy diet throughout the transition. Maybe you’ve decided to go back to school or maybe you’ve decided to move, in any case, make sure that you are eating healthy, well-balanced meals. When individuals get stressed, they will tend to seek out carbs or sugar so make sure that you are mindful of keeping healthy choices around you like apple slices and peanut butter or a banana. It’s also important to be aware of your alcohol consumption at times of change because many people tend to increase their intake of mind-numbing distractions like alcohol.
  5. Remember that it’s vital to seek out help in times of need. If you are having a difficult time adjusting to the changes happening in your life, it is important to make sure that you have a good healthy support system around you. Often times, as wonderful as our support system may be however, additional help might be needed. Make sure to visit our Programs page to learn more about the variety of services we offer in our Outpatient program or visit our Resources page for additional resources that might help in our community. Often times being able to have a heartfelt conversation with a trusted friend is just what is needed to voice your frustrations or concerns regarding the upcoming changes and work through them.
  6. Avoid social media at a time of heightened emotions. Although social media and its extreme platform can be used for wonderful things such as connecting with family and friends you might not otherwise be able to, or possibly creating an exercise challenge with friends thousands of miles away, it can also be a dangerous tool. If the change in your life is something negative, allow yourself time to process and understand the change before going to social media.

I mentioned in the beginning of this blog that often times individuals experience the same feelings when they go through change as they do when experiencing grief. Individuals can move swiftly through the various stages, from being angry about the change or the fact that it hadn’t happened earlier, to anger at themselves or others for the same reasons. People can try to talk their way out of the change or even get depressed at the idea of changing. At the end of the day however, regardless of whether or not the change is something you chose to do to improve your life, or if it’s a change that you are having to adapt to, remember that it’s alright to have mixed feelings about it. Remember though, some change in life is inevitable and if viewed the correct way can ignite a new zeal. With the beginning of the new year, I invite you to try and look at change with a positive outlook. Understand that you may have mixed feelings over those changes but try to remember the tips I gave you today and work diligently towards coming to a place of acceptance and give yourself a pat on the back for being willing to do the work to get there!

Until next week; In Everything you do – CARE