Dealing with Change

What is it about change which is so scary?

Well, change involves risk and uncertainty and, as a result, induces a level of anxiety.  To elicit change, we need to invest our time and resources in something where we cannot guarantee a 100% success rate – it involves a level of gambling with our peace of mind.

Taking on a new job, for example, has inherent risks – What if we end up hating it? What if we realise that we preferred the last one? What if we dislike our colleagues?  Similarly, getting married … almost 50% of marriages now end in divorce so there is no absolute guarantee of happiness, we simply take a calculated risk.

Change involves an investment of resources and a leap of faith… and that can be challenging.

Of course the opposite of change is stagnation.  It’s true that repeating the same routines over and over again reduces risk – it’s also true that you may miss out on something amazing because you are too scared to try. Furthermore, whether you actively embrace change or not, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid it!

So, how do you best cope with change?

  • Acknowledge that life constantly evolves, whether you want it to or not.  Denial isn’t helpful in the long term – the energy that you expend resisting change could be better spend simply dealing with it.
  • Play the long game – every change, even positive change, will produce some stress.  Getting married, having a baby, graduating from uni – all of these life events produces stress … but they are all generally worth it for the positive changes you will experience!
  • When you are experiencing life changes, ground yourself by keeping some things constant – the same routines, for example, where you can.
  •  Eat healthily and exercise well. 
  • Try to maintain good sleep hygiene so that you feel well-rested.  Going through stressful changes is even harder when you’re tired.
  • Use your support network of family and friends to help you…and if you need to, contact a counsellor or therapist.  There is never any need to feel embarrassed about asking for help.
  • Think about the positives of the changes that are happening to you.
  • When considering any negatives, think about how you can manage them proactively.
  • Make time for relaxation.  Acknowledge that change can be hard, that you are doing well and that you need to look after yourself – physically and emotionally.  
  • Remind yourself of why this change is happening – perhaps it’s a stage of life that everyone goes through and which you simply can’t avoid; perhaps it’s a life choice which will ultimately bring you rewards, however difficult it is in the meantime;  perhaps you are caught up in something which feels like a test right now but which you’ll emerge all the stronger from.  
  • All life changes have one thing in common – they are temporary, change is transient… and you come out the other side.  Whether you emerge triumphant is largely up to you.  Best of luck!