Adapting to change can be a challenge, but there are different ways to navigate your way through. Here are some important skills that will help.
Adapting To 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, radical change.
No matter what new situations you are coping with, you are not alone. No one is ever 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 adapting to change.
Whether they help you monumentally or at the moment, learning to move out of your comfort zone in a more positive way is crucial to a healthy life balance. You don’t want to miss out on the good changes because you are having a hard time, so it is time to develop some new perspectives.
Focus on What You Can Control
The bottom line for a human being 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 and things change, it can be very unsettling.
When that happens, think about the new information and how much of it you can control. Oftentimes when we experience new challenges, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and have feelings of anxiety. It is a natural reaction to having to process new ideas. Just remember that 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. Even when there is constant change, there are always variables that can be worked on or compartmentalized. Deal with the things that you can adjust and take one step at a time.
Did your dinner plans get canceled? 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 find new ways to express yourself or accept it for what it is.
Did your car suddenly break down or did you lose your house? Let yourself have moments of frustration and fear, and then think about your next steps. 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. The important thing is to learn to cope with the change and manage the situation, not get stuck under it.
Accept the Change
Whether there are portions of this change that you’re able to have control over or not, you have to pause and accept the way things are. 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 time to find it. You have the choice to breathe through the process and work your thoughts towards embracing this change or to get stuck thinking only of the negative impacts. Accepting these external shifts will help curb the anxiety.
Manage the Stress
Change brings about stress. 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.
Working on your adaptability skills, you have to find new ways to meet your fear of the unknown with a positive attitude. That doesn’t mean that you have to be comfortable with change, but it does mean that working towards having an open mind will make handling change easier.
There are a few things you can do when you’re learning to manage your stress. Writing a letter is always a good idea (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, get some exercise, or 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. Adapting to change is a habit and one of the main reasons that some people are better at it than others. Some people view disruption as a bad situation and others view it as a great opportunity.
Think hard about the change that just happened and the new things that have been presented to you. Are you out of a job, lost a car, or 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 in these changing circumstances and start thinking of innovative ways that you can 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. In this changing world, one of the best ways to adapt is to understand that while some things will stay status quo, most will not.
Start working towards a solution. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to hang on long enough to see it. And while sometimes things just suck, there is no excuse for giving up.
Maybe it’s time to find a new job, change your business environment, or learn new skills that will take you forward. Perhaps your daily routine is getting in the way of positive change and a new normal.
Take one thing at a time and work your way forward. Take actions to solve the change or make it more positive in any way you can. Sometimes that 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.
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 life changes can be overwhelming, and adapting to 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 discover better ways to find the light at the end of the tunnel.