Change is inevitable and can be overwhelming. Finding ways to accept, flow, and cope can make these transitions a little easier.
Change is the one constant in life. It can come on suddenly, as with a death in the family, or incrementally, such as if you get married, switch jobs, or relocate to a new city.
Whatever the change is, you may find yourself spending a great deal of effort trying to avoid it. After all, not all change is for the better.
Learning coping strategies can help you adapt to these events throughout your life.
Coping with change requires you to pivot in your life. You may suddenly have to reverse course or find a new way of doing things.
This can push you out of your comfort zone and make you feel uncomfortable — especially since humans are conditioned to resist change, according to 2012 research.
While you can’t keep everything frozen in time, you might find security in learning some general steps to take when change does come.
Overarching steps to handle life’s changes
- Visualize how the change might affect your life.
- List your priorities.
- Practice self-care.
- Celebrate moments of progress.
- Lean into social support from friends, loved ones, or other connections.
If you find it hard to cope with change, you might need some guidance to help you get back on track. However, following these strategies can help you navigate change due to life’s circumstances.
1. Hold onto your routine
When everything is changing around you, you may find peace in doing structured things.
Even your morning routine can provide a sense of stability. Getting out of bed at the same time every day, eating breakfast, and stimulating your body can all help your mental well-being during times when your life is less predictable.
2. Reframe your perspective
The way you think about change may determine how you’ll deal with it.
Negative thinking patterns can hamper your ability to focus on the positive.
In fact, research from 2020 shows that negative self-talk can take a toll on your emotional well-being.
Consider reframing your thoughts. This is a technique that helps you shift your perspective to look at situations with a more optimistic attitude. Here’s a guide for reframing your self-talk.
3. Sit with your feelings or sweat them out
During transitional times in your life, uncomfortable feelings may arise, and you may feel like you’ve lost your footing.
One way to channel these feelings is to “sit” with them. You can learn how to do that here.
You can also deal with your feelings by releasing them through exercise.
If sitting with your feelings or exercising isn’t your thing, consider speaking with friends and family or seeking a therapist’s guidance.
4. Break down your day
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Dr. Lori Ryland, chief clinical officer at Pinnacle Treatment Centers, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, suggests you “break down your tasks and your day into bite-sized pieces rather than trying to get through it all at once.”
Ryland suggests focusing on the present moment, then the next, and so on. This is because it’s rarely the precise moment that feels challenging but how you interpret the big picture.
5. Surround yourself with a positive inner circle
You might want to take a look at who surrounds you. Ryland suggests noticing who lifts you up and who’s bringing you down.
“Limit your time with those who drain you and bring negative energy in,” says Ryland. You might try spending time with the people who bring you calm and peace instead.
6. Show yourself self-care
Making time for relaxation practices that bring you joy and restoration can make change happen more smoothly.
You might try:
- getting a massage
- taking a warm bath or soaking in a Jacuzzi
- listening to relaxing music
Doing something that’s soothing to you is the key. You could even schedule regular times for these calming activities so you have something to look forward to (see strategy 1 above).
7. Practice gratitude
Whether you’ve just received terrible news or are getting ready to relocate to a new city, reminding yourself of all that you’re grateful for can be a good way to see past the changes into mindfulness.
Consider jotting down your blessings in a journal or telling a loved one all the things that make you feel thankful.
Change can be uncomfortable to deal with and may require making some adjustments to your day-to-day. While you can’t always steer change, you can learn how to respond to it.
Taking steps such as visualizing, prioritizing, and practicing self-care are just a few ways to help you handle life’s changes.
You may benefit from checking in on yourself and connecting with loved ones. Social connections can provide support when you need an extra hand.
If you’re still having difficulty dealing with change, consider talking with a mental health professional.