Change is something that everyone has had to deal with over the past 18 months in a whole host of different ways. We have lived through three lockdowns and had to adjust to a new normal, both going into and coming out of them. Then there are all the other changes which so many individuals have dealt with; losing loved ones, dealing with the emotional, psychological and also physical stresses of feeling under threat, whether it’s from Covid, financial/work concerns, separation from loved ones, or simply living with the sense of not knowing what the future is going to bring.
We have had to adapt and make sacrifices, often at short notice, and this can leave us feeling uncertain and anxious about what the future holds. In a world of change, I wonder how we as individuals feel about change and respond to it? Can we enable ourselves to be resilient and adaptable?
The way we view change has a huge effect on how we respond to it. Some might view change as exciting and presenting opportunities, enjoying the process of adapting, whereas for others it might feel threatening, moving us away from the comfortable towards the unknown. For most of us, it can depend on what the change is and how it occurs. If we are moving towards a known change, it can allow us to prepare practically and psychologically for what is in the pipeline, it can also give us more time to feel wound up about what we have to do and increase the amount of time we spend giving it headspace. An unforeseen change can mean we have less time to worry about it but can also mean that it throws us off course and can take us longer to adapt to it.
So what can we do to help us to adapt when we are faced with change?
Consider how you might create a new routine for yourself. From when you get up, how you fill your day, to when you go to bed. Is it possible to plan how you are going to fill your time, making sure that you put aside some time for yourself, by considering what your needs are and how you can meet them? Having a routine can help us to feel more in control of what is happening to us. If we feel in control, we are more likely to avoid becoming anxious and stressed and more likely to feel that we can manage.
Exercise. By exercising, I don’t necessarily mean running a marathon, but finding something that you enjoy that increases your heart rate, whether it’s going for a brisk walk, gardening or dancing round your kitchen! Exercise releases endorphins which contribute towards feeling good and lowering stress levels, helping us to feel more like we can take things in our stride.
Proactive prevention. There may be things which increase our stress levels. By being aware of them, it can be possible to put things in place to help us avoid those triggers. For example, if there is something coming up that feels stressful for you, consider doing things which help you to relax, take your mind off it and feel calmer. There might also be things that you can do to help you feel calmer by feeling more in control of the situation, such as finding information which is relevant to your situation, or asking for help from people who understand your circumstances.
Acknowledging your achievements. In times where change makes us feel vulnerable, we can be prone to overlooking those things which are achievements, no matter how small they may feel, and can allow negative thoughts and feelings to overshadow them. By recording our achievements and coming back to them, it can enable us to see that there are things we can be proud of, which help to counter any negative thoughts.
Change is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to be something that just happens to us. Change is something we can play an active role in, and by doing so, we can help to mitigate some of the difficult thoughts and feelings which might be associated with it.