Life has a funny habit of throwing us curveballs every now and again, whether they be good or bad. What is certain however, is that change is inevitable and we will always need to adapt to our new situation.
Whilst we may not be able to stop these events from happening, one thing we are able to control is the way we react to them.
In this blog, we look at some top tips when dealing with change and ways to develop your resilience for a smoother ride when we’re faced with them!
Types of Change
So what changes are we talking about here? The answer is almost anything!
From life altering events like losing a loved one to more simple ones like moving house, our lives are full of milestones that may require us to think, act and feel differently.
For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be looking mostly at the negative changes that we might face in life (though that doesn’t mean awesome changes like a new birth, marriage or promotion don’t require huge acceptance too)!
Some key changes that may/will occur in your lifetime include:
- Losing a loved one
- Breakdown of a relationship
- Moving to a new location
- Changes in career
- One-off traumatic events
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Why Resilience is Important
The changes listed above have the power to entirely alter our emotions and personalities permanently. During times of change, our bodies natural fight-or-flight mode, in tandem with previous life experiences shape how we react to certain levels of stress.
Whilst we may not be able to stop the change event, we do have the ability to change our reactions to it, and this is shaped by our levels of resilience.
Resilience is your body’s ability to adapt during times of adversity, both mentally and physically.
The more we are able to hone our level of resilience, the
more we are able to take control of our emotions and in turn, make more rational
decisions when crisis hits.
That isn’t to say resilience voids us of emotion – that would
be ridiculous and having and showing emotions is part of being human! It simply
enables us to regulate them a bit better, so we aren’t overwhelmed when
something goes wrong.
6 Tips to Cope with Change Better
Expected or not, times of change can be difficult. Here are our top 6 tips to help you cope with change better!
1. Allow yourself to grieve the past
During a transition, we inevitably look back to the life we had before the change happened and compare it with the present moment. As a result, it’s important to allow yourself time to mourn whatever has occurred.
This isn’t solely related to a death (but it can be); a break-up, a big career move or even moving house all require a period of time for us to grieve for what we have lost. Be kind to yourself during this period and try to avoid feeling guilt for feeling this way.
2. Find acceptance with the new situation
It may be difficult, but the next key step during a large change is to accept the new situation, and to let go of the negative emotions surrounding it.
Life events like the loss of a family member or breakdown of a relationship will most likely evoke feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, guilt and/or loneliness. It’s perfectly normal to feel like this and these emotions will ease over time, but it will require some mental strength to do so.
Try to reframe these emotions when they come, into something more positive like in the picture below. This is called Cognitive Reframing and is at the heart of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which has been proven to help with issues such as depression and anxiety.
Accepting the outcome of the change and knowing that there is a life afterwards, can help relieve these negative emotions sooner.
3. Think about how much you can control
We often fear a period of change due to the lack of certainty for the future and/or control we have over the situation. Often in life, large transitions are thrust upon us, sometimes without any warning or prior preparation.
During these moments, focus on the key things that you are able to control. Key examples of this include:
- The way you look after your body and mind
- The way you speak to yourself and others during the change
- How much preparation you can do before the change to make it easier for yourself (if any)
- Your attitude towards the future
By identifying what we are in control of, it makes it easier for us to let go of the things we can’t control!
4. Find a method of stress relief
Changes in our lives can cause an immense amount of stress for us, which in turn can cause a number of problems both mentally and physically. This can include increased chances of anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks!
Finding an outlet to manage this stress can help relieve the negative emotions that come with the change. From taking up running to journalling, knitting to Zumba, there are so many options out there to help relieve stress when you feel it hit.
Practising grounding techniques can also be a great method to finding peace within the moment, especially if you can feel yourself starting to spiral with negative emotions.
5. Set goals for yourself
As mentioned previously, during periods of transition, it’s easy to reminisce on the past but much harder to look to the future. Events like a break up or death often make us take a step back and re-evaluate our lives through a different lens, and have the opportunity to propel us for the better if harnessed.
Setting goals for yourself can help us maintain that forward-looking perspective and give a sense of achievement and hope during times of turmoil.
Whether those goals are small or big, setting a target not only allows you to focus your thoughts on that longer term, but is more likely to provide a deeper level of self-confidence and happiness. These goals can be related to your stress relief method above or not! Some common goals may be to:
- Volunteer your time more
- See more of family/friends
- Physically related e.g. lose 10kg, run a marathon
- Take up a new hobby
- Travel more
- Take more photos
6. Seek Support
Whilst the above steps may be helpful in moving forward during times of change, never forget the importance of seeking support throughout – there’s no time limit on your emotions.
Whether that be confiding in a friend, family member or seeking professional help, remember that you aren’t alone. You won’t have been the first person in your situation and you won’t be the last.
Finding help from others who have been in your situation can help provide comfort and hope for the future and equip you with the tools to look forward.
Charities like Samaritans can also help if you would prefer to speak to someone anonymously and/or impartially.
Changes in life can be difficult to navigate and can come with a whole range of emotions for us to manage. Allowing ourselves to grieve these changes and look forward are key to dealing with them.
With patience and increased mental power, you’ll be able to increase your resilience and cope better with the changes life throws at us!