We all go through many changes in our life. Some are positive, others may seem negative, but either way, we cannot avoid them! We may face them in our careers, living arrangements, families, friendships, and numerous other aspects of our lives. Change can be difficult, uncertain, and extremely uncomfortable, but because it is inevitable, it is important that we learn how to cope with it in healthy ways. The Mind Tools website describes coping as “the way we think about and deal with stressful events.” Whether we are experiencing good stress or bad stress as the result of life changes, learning to cope is essential to our physical and mental health. Below are some ideas for coping with the curve balls life can throw at you in healthy and productive ways. Whether you’re moving to a new city or lost your job, these tips can be adapted for any life-changing situation.
Give yourself time and space to feel honest emotions
In other words, don’t pretend that everything is rainbows and butterflies and avoid acknowledging how you really feel! CHANGE IS HARD! Maybe you just relocated, switched jobs, or ended a relationship. Even if it’s a positive change, you may still feel very sad at times about what you left behind. That’s ok! The Disney Pixar movie, “Inside Out,” is a great example of how we can’t always control our emotions, and need to acknowledge them honestly in order to deal with them. Once you are able to do this, it will be easier for you to focus on what you can do to make the change as comfortable as possible.
If you find yourself in a brand new situation, whether you‘ve just relocated to a new city or started a new job, it is so important that you reach out to people around you. Simply smiling and saying hello to the people around you can help you build connections. If you just started a new job, start building relationships with your colleagues. Volunteer your talents to help those around you. Another great tool for reaching out to people around you is looking for groups of people in your area that have similar interests. In this digital age, finding people that share your interests is easier than ever. Whether you are a young professional, an outdoor enthusiast, or have a passion for reading, you can easily find a group in your area that can help you build positive connections with people around you.
As you learn to reach out, seek out opportunities to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s taking an art class, learning a new language, or taking up a musical instrument or sport, trying something new can help you stay positive and excited.! You could even find a new passion that will help you develop a fresh outlook on life. Be open to new opportunities!
Seek out (and accept) support from family and friends
Don’t just gather new people–you can reach out to your existing support system to help you through times of change as well. Be honest with them about how you’re feeling and let them be there for you! If you’re dealing with illness, divorce, or other such changes, they may not be sure how you would like them to help, so be up front, and help them help you. It can be easy to hide your emotions and make it seem like everything is ok, but that will just cause you to keep your emotions bottled up, which will likely be harmful in the long run.
Once you accept the change that has occurred in your life, it will be much easier to deal with. This can be a long, difficult process, but is essential to making peace with all that is going on around you. One of the biggest hurdles to acceptance is fear. Being afraid of changes occurring in your life can make it very difficult for you to grow. According to psychotherapist and spiritual mentor Alan McAllister, letting go of fear allows you to “open your heart and your knowing.” This kind of openness can be extremely empowering as you discover new opportunities that will help you to grow as a person.
Look for the positive!
When you’re in that stage of change when you’re missing aspects of your old life, think about what you have learned and what you are gaining from the change. Maybe you’ve found a favorite place to shop in your new town or met someone you can laugh with at your new job. Paying attention to the positive things around you will help you keep a positive attitude. Take time each day to think about these things and perhaps record them in a journal that you can read when you are feeling down.
Life is nothing if not unpredictable, and changes (both big and small) can really throw you for a loop! No matter what changes you are facing in your life, stay focused on how you respond to them. If you acknowledge your feelings while keeping an open mind to the many possibilities around you, even the most difficult life change can improve your life in ways that you would not have expected.
Karen Wrang is an elementary school teacher who recently relocated from Maryland to Seattle, WA with her husband and pets. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering with rescue animals, going to concerts, trying new restaurants, and reading whatever she can get her hands on.