6 Steps to Better Cope with Change
We are all bound to experience changes in our lives at some point. Whether this change is at our work, in our relationships, to our health, or a large global change, it can be a difficult thing to deal with. Some changes we know about in advance, but others are sudden and unpredictable. Learning to cope with changes in a better way can help lower your risk of stress, anxiety and depression. By reading this article, you will learn 6 steps to help you better cope with change in your life.
1. What’s Going On?
The first thing to do when facing change, is to clarify what exactly is going on. Start by identifying the change in your life that you’re trying to cope with, and acknowledge how it is making you feel. Is it making you anxious? Happy? Disappointed? Excited? Recognising the change and accepting how you feel about it, is the first step towards effectively coping with it.
If you have specific things or scenarios connected with the change that make you anxious, try writing them down. Once you’ve written your fears about the change down, you can go through them and plan what you could do if the worst scenario came to pass. Having a plan ‘just in case’ might help you be more calm.
2. What Can You Do About It?
It can be very tempting to just ignore changes when they are happening. However, ignoring the change isn’t going to make it stop – it’s just going to make it harder for you to cope with it, once you can no longer pretend it isn’t there. So, instead, stop trying to avoid change, and start accepting it and thinking of active ways to deal with it.
If the change is largely within your control, try breaking it down into smaller, more manageable pieces. You can even make a to-do list of things you can do to make the process easier.
If the change is mostly out of your control, it can be very helpful to focus on the things regarding the change that you can control. You might not be able to stop the changes from happening, but you can often adjust them, and influence the direction of the change. Think about the changes you’re facing, and where you can take control – even if it’s something small.
3. Take Care of Yourself
Change is often stressful, and can be challenging for anyone. It’s therefore more important than ever, to make sure you’re prioritising yourself. This can mean taking care of yourself physically, by making sure you exercise and eat well, and get enough sleep. Or it can mean taking care of your mental or emotional needs by doing things that relax you, or make you happy. This could be seeing friends, or setting some time aside to engage with your favourite hobby – or just to watch a movie you really like.
No matter what, this point is all about you. So try to identify what usually makes you feel good, and then make sure that you carve out some time in your schedule to do exactly that.
4. Seek Support
No matter what sort of change you’re facing, there is no reason for you to have to go through it alone. Getting support (emotional and/or practical), can help you cope with the change much more effectively. If you don’t have family or friends to reach out to for support, you can always try reaching out to people in a similar position, either through local support groups or organisations, or online. You might also want to consider speaking to a therapist who can help you talk through it all. Reading self-help books or articles (like this one) can be helpful to an extent, but if things get really tough, it might not be enough. You can always reach out to We.Care on we.care/onapp, and we can help putting you in contact with a licensed psychologist.
5. Try to Find the Positive
You might immediately be tempted to skip this point. We’re often told to ‘think positively’ or ‘just try to look on the bright side’ by well-meaning acquaintances (or even people close to us), and it can often come off as patronising. After all, if we could just magically feel good about what is happening, then we would – right? However, finding the positive doesn’t mean that you have to deny the negative, or pretend that you aren’t having a hard time. Finding the positive is about acknowledging that even though change is tough, there is likely something good associated with it as well – even if it’s hard to see right now. The changes you are facing right now might lead to new (better) opportunities in the future. And changing the way you think about the change is going to affect how you feel, and can help prevent stress and anxiety.
6. New Meaning
Changes can often be extra challenging because they affect the way we think about ourselves. When changes occur, it can make us question our core beliefs about who we are, because it causes us to see ourselves in a new light, and thereby causes changes to the statements we make about ourselves. You might describe yourself in any number of ways; a teacher, a parent, a wife etc. But what if you switch jobs? Or get a divorce? Suddenly the statements you used to describe yourself no longer apply.
It’s important to have a sense of meaning and identity when things are changing. One thing that can be particularly helpful, is to reflect on your own personal values. If you can identify what is most important and meaningful to you, you can work to stay true to those values and aspects in your life through the changes. Alternatively you can try finding new ways to describe yourself that are as meaningful to you as before.
We all experience changes in our lives at some point, and it can be a difficult thing to deal with. By reading this article, you have learned more about steps you can take to better cope with changes in your life. Some effective ways of coping with change include:
- Identifying the change, and acknowledging how it is making you feel
- Figuring out how you can take control, and affect the changes
- Remembering to take care of yourself
- Seeking support from your network, or a therapist if you need it
- Reframing the way you think about the change – maybe it’s not all bad
- Keeping a sense of meaning and identity, or redefining it
A kind reminder that: ‘Life’s about changes. Nothing ever stays the same’.