Change is inevitable. Yet, for so many of us, change is difficult to cope with. In fact, many people may become anxious or frightened just at the thought of change. And, that’s understandable. Change is challenging, unknown, uncertain, and forces us to break out of our comfort zones or existing habits.
But, instead of resisting change, here are seven ways that you can better adapt and cope when faced with changes in your life.
1. Acknowledge things are changing.
“Sometimes we get so caught up in fighting change that we put off actually dealing with it,” writes Stephanie A. Sarkis Ph.D. for Psychology Today. “Denial is a powerful force, and it protects us in many ways. However, stepping outside of it and saying to yourself, ‘Things are changing, and it is okay’ can be less stressful than putting it off.”
2. Think things through and ask, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’
“We're often scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown. And a good way to deal with the unknown is to think things through carefully,” recommends the team over at ReachOutAustralia. “Imagine all of the different possible outcomes, and then decide what would be your best- and worst-case scenarios” by either speaking them out loud or recording them in a journal.
“Another great strategy is to think about the last time you were faced with a big change and got through it okay. Remember how scary it was starting high school or learning to drive? Sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems at first, and may just take a little time to get used to.”
3. Evaluate what you can control.
“Sometimes it’s all too easy to become fixated on events over which we have no power, or people who might never change their actions or attitude, says Kathleen Smith, Ph.D., LPC. “But rather than focus on blaming others or moving the unmovable, resilient people set their sights on what they can control.”
You can determine the amount of control that you have over a situation by asking, “What can I take responsibility for in this situation?” This allows you to find “opportunities to empower yourself and work towards change that is possible” so that “you’re less likely to feel stuck in difficult situations.”
4. Make time to take care of yourself.
"Acknowledge that a lot of change is going to have a negative impact, so consciously make time for — I'd call it self love," Christopher Harvey, senior manager of change methodology within global projects & change at PwC and founder of the professional coaching service Harvey Sinclair, told Business Insider. "Take time to actually appreciate your self."
For example, if you’ve recently relocated, go out and do the things that you enjoy, like playing in a park with your children, trying out new restaurants, going to the movies, or exercising.
"Think to yourself 'right, I know this is going to be an upsetting thing that's going to hit me in a couple of days, but I'm going to make sure I arrange to go see a movie tomorrow night and I'm going to go to this event to meet some new people,'" Harvey said. It’s a better option then bottling up your negative emotions and emotions. And, it can help you adjust in a more positive way.
5. Develop routines, even small ones.
“Developing small routines and habits has helped me stay grounded and connected to myself,” writes Hannah Braime on Tiny Buddha. “In turn, this has enabled me to feel more accepting of other changes happening around me.”
For example, while traveling across South America and Mexico for seven months Braime developed routines like “having the same breakfast most days and dedicating Saturday mornings to learning Spanish”, to provide her with consistency and stability.
“When it feels like everything else around us is in flux, finding small comforts to hold on to can make all the difference in how we process and deal with other changes in our lives,” says Braime.
6. Reframe your thinking.
View change as an opportunity to experience new things, meet new people and become a better person. This can be a challenge itself. But, to help you get started, begin practicing gratitude You don’t have to overdo this. But, you could spend just once or twice a week writing down what you appreciate, such as meeting a new gym buddy or that distancing yourself from toxic relationships have improved your well-being.
7. Don’t go it alone.
Finally, when you feel overwhelmed by change, seek support from friends and family. If you’re having a difficult time adjusting, such as dealing with emotional changes, you may want to speak to a counselor or therapist. They can help put things in perspective or share their own advice on how you can deal with change.