Change is difficult. We become accustomed to the status quo - even if we don't like it. Sometimes we are dying for change and yet when change occurs we find ourselves feeling disoriented and lost. Sometimes we plan for change and other times change simply happens and we are left struggling to make sense of it all. It's important to remember that even good change can be stressful. This stress can manifest mentally, physically, emotionally, or in any combination thereof. So ask yourself:
1) How is this change going to impact me?
Whether it is the loss of a relationship or an exciting new job, it is important to consider how this change will affect your life. Are your perceptions realistic or inflated by your emotions? How can you address the obstacles or challenges you have coming your way?
2) What am I feeling?
Are you sad, hurt, angry, elated? We often don't take the time to slow ourselves down and consider our inner emotional experience. Give yourself permission to feel sad, or nervous, or excited about this change. Even a positive change in your life may be accompanied by some challenging emotions. Closing a door to start a new chapter can be bittersweet. Starting an exciting new job in a new city can be scary. Feeling unprepared for parenthood can be confusing and overwhelming.
3) Have I taken time to process?
We get caught up in the madness of our busy schedules and this may prevent us the time to process the change in our life. Give yourself space to adjust and reorient yourself. Take some time to be present and write out your thoughts or talk to a supportive friend.
4) Am I taking care of myself?
I encourage all of my clients to make a list: 10 Things I Can Do to Take Better Care of Myself. This list is unique to you and serves as a reminder to do things that make you feel taken care of, relaxed, and rejuvenated. The fact is, our resources are not infinite and become depleted over time if we do not give ourselves time to recharge. Common self-care activities include exercise, eating healthy, and prioritizing sleep. I would encourage you to make these even more specific. For example, rather than just listing exercise, instead consider practicing yoga or going for a walk - whatever speaks to you specifically.
5) Do I need more help?
Depending on the change, you may need more support than what you receive from your social support or self-care. Talking to your health care team is important; if you are feeling ill be sure to talk to your family doctor. Consulting with a therapist can also be a tremendous support through your difficult time.
While change can be difficult, it also is a fertile ground for growth and development. We do not grow when we are sitting comfortably. By taking the time to work through your own experience of change, you can better harvest the fruit of your struggles and create lasting growth.