“Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by some discomforts.”
Firstly our lives are in perpetual motion. We live in a constantly changing world and an ever expanding universe, so change is inevitable. Some people embrace change, seeing it as ushering in new energy; whilst others shy away from it and find it difficult to cope with.
Having been through a lot of upheavel and change in my life, I thought I would gather together my best coping strategies for dealing with it. So, here are my top 7 tips for dealing and managing change in your life.
Allow yourself time to grieve
This might sounds a bit weird, but sometimes change doesn’t happen as a result of someone dying. However, change almost certainly is the end of one thing, and the start of something else. With that in mind, there is a greiving process of sorts attached to change, which I feel is important to recognise.
I can remember a time when, in my early 20’s, lots of change all came at once within a very short space of time. One of my very good friends got married – meaning I had ‘lost‘ her to her new husband. Another very good friend left to travel europe and then return to her home in South Africa – meaning I had ‘lost‘ her as a physical presence in my life. My mum had got remarried – which meant I had ‘lost‘ her to another man that wasn’t my father. All those things together had a really profound affect on me. I was seeing a therapist at the time, and it was them that said you have to give yourself time to grieve the changing situation.
So give yourself time to ‘grieve’ for the change that is happening and accept it in your own time. Once you have then it’s time move forward with your life, at your own pace. The grieving process isn’t just reserved for physical death.
Keep your regular schedule
One of the key things about change is to lessen its impact as much as you can, so sticking to your regular schedule as much as you can will really help with this. For instance, if you take your dog for a walk first thing in the morning, stick to that time. Allow that to be a slice of consistency as an anchor in your daily life. Really cherrish taking your pooch for a walk (or whatever you choose to remain as your constant), and allow the experience to set you up for the rest of the day. It doesn’t have to be just one thing; just so long as you don’t feel overwhelmed; like you’re juggling too many balls in the air at once!
Write is down
Anyone that has followed my blog for any length of time will know that I am a big advocate of writing down your feelings; and dealing with change is no different. By writing down how you feel you will be literally “getting it off your chest” as they saying goes. It’s then out of your head and in the form of ink on a page – it does need to be written down with a pen on paper, not in the note app on your smartphone! Remember that you can rant and rave about the change you’re experiencing as much as you like because no one is going to judge you. These are your thoughts and feelings, for your eyes only.
Embrace your support network… to a point
Most of us are very luck to have a support network around us, so that when the poop hits the fan they are there to help us out. And whilst they will listen to your change related issues, you do have to be mindful that you’re not using them just to rant to. Ranting is good, don’t get me wrong, but it‘s safe to say that someone that rants and moans about their situation everytime you see them can get very tiring for them. Plus, this level of negativity and anger is not good for your mental wellbeing; continually being in that loop of ranting and negativity.
To get out of the loop, why not think about the benefits to the particular change that is occuring in your life. For me, back in the day, I thought about the chance to keep in contact with my friend in South Africa via snail mai because I love writing; as well as a new vaccation desitnation to visit – which I have done, numerous times now! It didn’t stop me being sad, but it was nevertheless a positive of the situation.
Step back from the socials
The temptation is when you go through change to shout it from the roof tops, which in 21st century terms means post it on the socials, especially if you desire a reaction or to find kindred spirits who have been through the same thing as you. I would reccomend that you don’t do that, because despite your need to not feel alone, it can have the opposite effect and become triggering. This is because, whilst you are part of something that you can idenify with, it might be that those newly found kindred spirits haven’t managed to overcome their similar issue; which in turn could then bring you down.
So, turn off your notifications. Refrain from posting anything on the socials and don’t start scrolling the moment you wake up or have a spare five minutes. I took this tact at the start of the Covid Pandemic. There was so much change taking place. So much upheaval and low energy, that I decided to turn off my social notifications particularly on Facebook and step back from it. I personally found the posts and general chat to be incredibly triggering for me, and caused my anxiety to go through the roof. By stepping back, you are in control and it’s one less thing to had to deal with. Don’t tell Mark Zuckerberg but I enjoyed the step back so much, that I haven’t really gone back to it!
Control what you can control
When change occurs there are many things that are out of your control. However, work out the things that are within your power/ skillset/ remit to control, and proactively control those things. For everything else, relinquish all control. So, for example if you were moving house there are lots of things that you have the power to control, from making ‘To-do‘ lists, to decluttering ahead of packing. Just avoid controlling the uncontrollable!
The one mantra that I live by is this… “What is the worst that could happen?“. I have used that little phrase many a time in meetings and interviews, because it manages expectations. And let’s be honest, change is only scary because of the unknown and because you don’t manage your own expectations.
To use this phrase to its greatest effect, think about other times when you have experienced change, and how you got through it. What were the coping mechanisms you used that time, when you adapted and survived that particular change. Then, rather than using it as a negative, and catastrophising about all the possible outcomes, just think to yourself… “What’s the worst that could happen?” in a positive way, as part of your own crisis management.
If you are going through change, I hope that some or all of my tips will come in handy, and help you through what you’re experiencing. As always, if things get too overwhelming there are people and organisations that can help you, so please don’t feel like you’re on your own because you’re not. Just take baby steps, and in six months time you will look back and see not only how far you have come, but how well you dealt with this particular change.