How To Navigate Change

Michelle Perez, Mental Health Counselor March 25, 2021

We know that adjusting and making room for change can be tough. This article is meant to serve as a gentle reminder that change can be our friend (even when it does not seem like it!). Click here for exercises that will help you practice acceptance and embrace change.

Change is an inevitable part of life, one that can help us evolve and reach self-actualization. Yet how many of us can truthfully say we are fans of change? Even when it's longed for? 

There is a degree of comfort in knowing what to expect and feeling a sense of control about the choices in our lives. We know that adjusting and making room for change can be tough. This article is meant to serve as a gentle reminder that change can be our friend (even when it does not seem like it!).

You might not realize it, but you are constantly changing. Change takes place in your lifestyle choices, relationships, career, and so on. The past year alone has brought on unprecedented, many times rapid, changes, some of which we are still adjusting to, with new challenges arising daily. 

The pandemic, along with political and global affairs, continues to impact the way we live our day-to-day lives. 

With the nonstop confusion, frustration, sadness, horror, and weirdness of the previous year, it is easy to forget that we have the power and freedom to choose how we navigate change—especially when we find ourselves hoping things get back to "normal." Let this be a reminder: YOU hold the power to change every day through your choices. I encourage you to explore the following exercises and possibly embrace where you find yourself now. 

Practice Acceptance

This is much easier said than done! There is strength and a degree of vulnerability involved in accepting that certain events are not a reflection of your actions or who you are as a person. 

We may be tempted to ask ourselves why certain events are happening to us. Engaging in constant rumination in anticipation or response to change can be detrimental to our mental health. It is normal for us as humans to take things personally, yet the reality of it is that our feelings cannot control the changes in our environment. 

Focus On What Is In Your Control

With little doubt, it can be easier to feel in control of the changes we welcome (like a new hairstyle or car), but what about unwelcome change? 

Identify the things you have control over that would make the transition smoother for you. This may be prioritizing healthy eating habits, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, or meditating. It can be easy to neglect certain aspects of our lives when change occurs, but it is important to show up for yourself.

The more we focus on avoiding change or the things we cannot control, the less present and aware we are of the things we can control. 

Avoid "Deadlines"

Be honest with yourself: is there a part of you rushing or overlooking how you feel about the change(s) taking place in your life? It is important to normalize how you are feeling and acknowledge that your feelings are valid! 

There may be an external and/or societal pressure to move on quickly, but it is essential to avoid comparisons. Give yourself the time you need. Investing the necessary time for yourself now will only promote healing and leave you better off in the end. Perhaps it is time to consider bringing in an outside perspective; if so, we are here! Our job is to remind you, coach you, and encourage/challenge you to help you better navigate the tricky spots in life.

The Flip Side

Instead of labeling the change as either good or bad, acknowledge all the in-betweens that may come with it. Even good change can bring its fair amount of stress (think moving, having a child, getting married). The challenge is to embrace all of it.

It may be difficult to do so at first, but instead of focusing on a loss or the negatives of a change, give yourself the time to reflect and ask yourself, "What am I gaining from this change?" or "How will this change help me navigate future change?"

Find Your Outlet

Processing change can get hard to do when we are constantly distracted by life's obligations. Having an outlet where you can clear your mind or soothe some of your worries and fears can help prevent greater feelings of anxiety or depression in the long run. 

Potential Outlets:

  • Creative arts (painting, music, writing)
  • Spending time with a friend
  • Playing with your pet 
  • Speaking with someone you trust or a mental health professional
  • Exercise 

It is important to acknowledge that these practices are easier said than done, but since change is an inevitable part of life, I encourage you to try to accept it for what it is and make the most of it. It may not make sense at first, but we can often look back on the changes that take place in our lives with resilience and events that made us stronger and wiser.

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