How to cope with change

Change is a part of life and the more we try to fight it, the harder it will be to get through it. Some people struggle with change because they fear the unknown. Others jump at the chance to venture outside their world to explore new opportunities and adventures.

When you fear change, you can become paralysed by all the negative thoughts that play out in your head. Learning to cope with the inevitability of change will make it easier to accept, reduce anxiety, and build up your resilience.

Changes can happen suddenly, like getting fired, or can be planned and prepared for, like moving to a new city. In either situation, being able to manage how you feel and what you do will indicate how rough or smooth the transition will be.

Who’s in Control?

The first step when coping with change is to identify how much control you have over the situation. There may be times when it seems like the change is completely out of your control - loss of home, become unemployed, family tragedy - but even the outcome of these situations can be influenced by our thoughts and actions.

  • Change can be scary when we don’t know what to expect. One way to ease those fears is to face them head on.
  •  Ask yourself, “what’s the worst that can/could happen?”
  • Make a list of all possible outcomes, negative and positive.
  • Evaluate the possibilities and choose the best scenario.
  • Make an action plan that aids in reaching a positive outcome and prevents the negative outcomes.
  • Reflect on times when you successfully faced a big change in the past when you start to doubt your ability to cope.
How Do I Feel?

Acknowledging your fears and worries is an important part of taking care of yourself when coping with change. Keeping your thoughts in check will help you determine if your fears are based in reality or if your mind is caught in the imagination of a worst case scenario playing out.

Ask for help from family and friends when you are feeling overwhelmed. Talking with others can give you a different perspective on the situation. Seeing things from another person’s point of view may give you insight on how to cope with change.

When it feels like change is out of our control we must reflect on the situation and work towards acceptance of what’s to come. Look for the positives that will result from the change and see this as an opportunity rather than a misfortune.

What Should I Do?

Change offers you the opportunity to live the life of your dreams. Life is what you make of it and it’s up to you to take the steps necessary to live the life you want. What are your priorities, your passions, your desires? What is important to you in life and how can this change help you reach your goals?

Stay focused on the present situation and only reflect on past changes you’ve been through for strength and guidance. Don’t dwell on the what ifs of the possible future. We tend to become paralysed with fear when we constantly worry about scenarios that may or may not happen.

Take action to reduce the anxiety that comes from fearing change.

  • Define the problem
  • Set goals
  • Brainstorm solutions
  • Eliminate unrealistic ideas
  • Evaluate the consequences
  • Identify the best solution
  • Put into action
  • Reflect on the outcome

Big changes like moving across the country to start a new job can be overwhelming. When creating an action plan for complex situations, break things down into a checklist of smaller tasks to make the situation less intimidating. As you complete tasks and check them off the list, you will feel better about getting closer to the end goal.

Once you have come to terms with the fact that change is going to happen and your plan is in action to handle the change, remember to take care of yourself. Managing your health with exercise and healthy eating habits combined with stress management techniques will reduce the anxiety you’re experiencing during the transition.