Coping with Change
Change is never far from our door, whether it’s breaking up with an ex, moving to a new city, the death of a relative, a pandemic, or the loss of a job. Even good changes, such as having a baby or getting a new job, can be stressful.
Change isn’t easy but here are some ways to help you cope with change and make it feel less scary.
Acknowledge your feelings.
If you feel resistant to change, then it is important to acknowledge your feelings. Don’t avoid your emotions, listen to them. Emotions are part of self-awareness. They help to tell a story. When you acknowledge and accept an emotion, you stop fighting it and are able to understand it and learn from it.
- Often, change brings up feelings of anxiety, worry, uncertainty and fear. You have to tell yourself that ‘It’s okay to feel worried and fearful.’ It is all part of being a human.
- If you need to grieve, then grieve and take care of your feelings. Even if the big change in your life is a happy one, accept that there will still be some emotional losses and work through them.
Remind yourself that you can’t control the outside world, but you can control your attitude and actions.
Change may turn your world upside down, but you still have control over how you respond to the situation. You can choose to approach the situation with anger and become frustrated or take your feelings out on others, or you can choose to see the situation as a new opportunity and approach it with an open and curious mind.
Journal about your worries.
- Change can bring about lots of insecurities, worries, and negative thoughts. Especially if you feel overwhelmed by change, start writing down all the things that contribute to you feeling overwhelmed. Writing things down can help you see that things are less negative than you first imagined.
- Firstly, write down what has changed in your life and what is challenging about it. Then, write down possible solutions.
But don’t just write down the negatives, write down the positives that have come from this change. There are always going to be pluses and minuses.
- Maybe due to this change you have met new people. Maybe you started practicing healthier habits. Maybe you became more positive or confident. Maybe the change helped you prioritize what is most important in your life. Change presents us with the opportunity to grow, and it’s important to acknowledge how things have become better as a result.
It is always helpful to talk to others who have had similar experiences.
It can be comforting to talk to someone who’s going through a similar change as you. Talking to someone who’s “been there” can be really helpful, knowing that he or she got through it okay.
- Ask for advice on what you can do to get through the change.
- Don’t bottle your feelings up; talk to someone. Talking always helps.
Try relaxation techniques
Relaxation can help decrease stress and increase emotional wellbeing. Techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and pranayama can help you relax and cope with stress more effectively.
Do light exercise.
Exercising two to three times a week has been found to significantly decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Even just walking around locally can help you feel better. I am not necessarily talking about going to the gym or doing a workout. You could swim, cycle, walk the dog or go jogging – all of these are going to help you feel more positive.
Let go of what has happened and move on.
Focusing on the past will not help you to move on with your life. We cannot move forward when we are constantly looking back. It’s no use wanting your ‘old life’ back or spending all of your moments wishing things would go back to what they used to be. That type of thinking is just going to hold you back.
- Instead of focusing on the past, anchor yourself in the present moment by doing mindfulness practice.
- Try not to rehash the past or rehearse the future. Each time you find yourself doing this bring yourself back to the present moment by using mindful breathing practices.
Keep up your regular schedule as much as possible.
- The more change that is happening, the more important it is to stick to your regular schedule. Having some things that stay the same, like walking the dog every morning or waking up at the same time, gives us an anchor. This anchor is a reminder that some things are still the same, and it gives your brain a little bit of a rest. The brain loves routine, so try to stick to a daily schedule.
The way we talk to ourselves during times of change is so important. If we talk in a harsh and negative way, we are going to make ourselves feel worse. But if we talk to ourselves in a calm, positive and supportive way, it is going to help us go through the change easier.
Here are some supportive phrases we could use:
- Change is a part of life
- Everyone finds change challenging
- I am not alone in the way I am feeling
- I acknowledge and accept my feelings
- Things change and that’s ok
- I will get through this challenging time
- I will learn and grow from this change
- Change is a part of life
Finally, give yourself a break. Everyone finds change challenging. You may feel a little out of control – and that’s ok. You may feel like you are not living up to your expectations – and that’s also ok.
My last piece of advice is to make a point to laugh more. Laughing increases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins—and that makes you feel good. Laughing also decreases cortisol—a stress-producing hormone. So, times may be challenging but there is always time to smile.
You can read more blogs, listen to podcasts, watch videos and practice guided meditations on the Buddhism Guide app. Available from the Apple Store and Google Play. You can also visit my website.
If you would like to become a supporter of Buddhism Guides work, such as podcasts, blogs, videos and guided meditation practices, please visit here. You can support for as little as $2 a month.