Coming back to the office after working from home, moving to a new city, ending a relationship, losing a loved one, these are all changes that can turn your routine upside down and even change your life. Some people thrive off change and love stepping outside their comfort zone. For others, even something relatively minor, such as reporting to a new supervisor at work, can be a cause of stress, and they can spend a lot of time and energy trying to avoid change at all costs.
However, change is the only constant in life. Whether we change things ourselves or things simply happen to us, change doesn’t necessarily have to be something negative. By learning to manage change and develop resilience towards it, you can boost your mental wellness and even turn it into an opportunity for self-growth.
Some changes can have a major impact on your life, and it’s alright if you need some time to adjust. For example, after spending over one year working from home, it’s normal to feel a bit of social anxiety and miss your family coming back to the office. Other changes, like divorce or the loss of a loved one, are major life events that may require months to get used to. Give yourself time to settle down and be patient. Change can be hard to accept at first, but things will slowly get better.
Change can be accompanied by difficult emotions; you may feel nervous, afraid, sad, and vulnerable. To a certain extent, all changes involve a bit of loss, and although we may sometimes be tempted to ignore the emotions that come with it, this can do more harm than good in the long run. It’s alright to feel a bit sad and nostalgic when something changes, and talking about this with a loved one or therapist can help you cope better.
Most of the changes we’re faced with are outside of our control. Quite often, the people that hate change fixate precisely on these things: changing your travel destination at the last minute because of the weather, cancelling an event because of lockdown restrictions, your work bestie handing in their resignation. Understanding that some things are out of your control and will happen no matter how hard you try will help you get better at going with the flow and focusing on what you can control – and that’s your reaction to change.
If you tend to fear and reject change, you’re more likely to perceive it as a negative and threatening event, and that will make it more difficult to adjust to. Next time when you’re dealing with change, analyse your thought patterns and reaction to it. Are there any positive aspects that come with the change? For example, moving to a different town can be scary because you’re changing your job and saying goodbye to your friend, but it can also be an opportunity to meet new people and see new places. By focusing on your strengths and the positive aspects of change, you can boost your resilience and feel less overwhelmed when change inevitably happens.
During difficult life changes, such as losing a job, losing a loved one, or getting a divorce, it can be easy to neglect yourself and turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drinking, binge eating, or compulsive buying. However, these don’t do your mental health any good. As challenging as the change might be, find time for reflection and self-care. Whether you understand it as spending time with your loved ones, rediscovering old hobbies, going for a long walk, or simply taking a day off, self-care can relieve stress and help you improve emotional health.