How To Best Cope with Change
Coping with change can be an uncomfortable experience. It’s not easy when we’re living our lives, going along, minding our own business and BAM, change happens.
No matter what changes you are coping with, I understand how you’re feeling. We are never quite ready for the unexpected. How can we be? Most of us are creatures of habit in one way or another – even if these habits are spontaneous from day to day. But there are ways to get better at dealing with change.
Whether they help you monumentally or in the moment, hopefully these tips will let you to cope with change in a more positive way and allow you to learn how to be more adaptable to the changes that get thrown at you in life, love, and business.
Focus on What You Can Control
The bottom line for we humans is that we like to feel that we are in control of a situation. Whether that be skydiving (where you know the time, place, and jumping point) or reservations for dinner, we are always expecting to have some control over a situation. So when that rug gets pulled out from under us, it can be unsettling.
When that happens, think about the change and how much of it you can control. Often times when we experience a big change, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is a natural reaction to have to figure out what to do, but you are more in control of your emotions than you may be aware.
Pause to figure out what your role is in this change and how much of it you can control. Break it down. When the change is huge, there are always variables that can be worked or compartmentalized. Deal with the things that you can adjust and take it one step at a time.
Did your dinner plans get cancelled? You still need to eat, so see it for what it is. Your world hasn’t changed. Figure out something else to eat, another means of entertainment (a movie? some television? a Skype call with a cousin?) and reschedule with the friend who bailed on you. If it happens again, decide whether this friend is worth the frequent loss of control you are feeling and either change it or accept it for what it is.
Did your car suddenly break down? Let yourself have the moments of frustration and annoyance (you’ve earned them!) and then think about how you will recover. What can you do to get through until you are back in a more comfortable scenario? What can you control? Figuring out the answers to these questions will have you working proactively instead of getting buried under the muck of feeling overwhelmed. It is about coping with the change and managing the situation, not getting stuck under it.
Accept the Change
Whether there are portions of this change that you’re able to have control over or not, it is important that you pause to accept the situation. This is your reality at this moment and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. So take a minute and breathe until you get to the point where you can say, “Okay, what do I do now?”
The biggest piece of control that you have is acceptance in the moment, so give yourself the moment to find it. You have the choice to to breathe through the process and work your thoughts towards embracing this change. Accepting what is happening will help curb the anxiety.
Manage the Stress
Change brings about stress. It just does. Sometimes it flows out in the form of excitement and other times anxiety, but there is typically a shift to your emotions that includes stress of some sort.
There are a few things you can do when you’re in this mental place. Learn what stress management techniques might work for you. Write a letter (not to send, but to get the feelings out. You can then burn it or throw it away afterward), do some deep breathing (in through your nose, out through your mouth), meditation or even get some stress balls to squeeze. Using stress reduction techniques to manage the stress of a big change in your life will help you focus on moving forward – which is the key.
Create Your Goals
With any change that takes place, there is a next step that has to happen in your life. You can choose to get stuck (and this is a choice!) or you can look for the next solution, step or movement that you can take. Coping with change is a habit that you can get yourself into.
Really think about the change that just happened and the new scenario that has been presented to you. Are you out of a job? Lost a car? Got served with divorce papers? What are you going to do next? What is your goal? To be happy? To be employed? To move out of state for new opportunities? Think about what makes the most sense for you and the people in your life and start thinking about what you can do to make lemonade out of lemons.
Lastly, if you really want to get better at coping with change, you’re going to have to morph your mindset towards a “take action” mentality. This doesn’t mean that you should be angry and start acting out, it means that you need to be proactive.
Start working towards a solution and a path to the finish line with this big change. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to hang on long enough to see it. And if you’ve read my site for awhile, I’ll tell you that sometimes things just suck, but that is no excuse for giving up. You can do this.
Take one thing at a time and work your way forward. Take actions to solve this change or make it more positive in any way you can. Sometimes this requires leaning on a friend or family member, so do that while you figure out the plan. Ask them to lend you their ear or be an emotional support person for you. We’ve all had hard times. They will understand, and hopefully be grateful that you asked.
What happens in your life is ultimately up to you. “Things” happen to all of us to try to throw off our game, but it is up to us to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. Change will happen and does happen, it’s just a matter of how you handle it that will determine where and how you end up.
No matter who you are, big changes in life can be overwhelming and coping with change can be difficult. Anxious thoughts will consume your mind and stress will creep in overnight. Take a breath, follow these steps, and sleep on it. You’ll find that light at the end of the tunnel before you know it.