Life is full of changes. From the very moment we come into existence, we are thrown into a forward motion of continual development and change. While some people seek change and are riveted by it, others find that dealing with transition can induce great amounts of stress.
Regardless of how we feel about change, there is no doubt that whether big or small, change is something we must learn how to deal with. Depending on the type of change, “dealing” with it may require us to shift our perspectives, conform to a new way of doing things, and even surrender some of our control.
Take me, for example.
In the span of one year, I graduated from college, got married, moved out of my parents’ home to a new rental home, got pregnant, left my full-time job and began working two part-time jobs, saw my husband through two job transitions and had a baby. To say that year of my life was a whirlwind is an understatement.
And while it was mostly joyful changes, the amount of transition endured still came with its fair share of stress. It also required hard things, like saying goodbye to beloved coworkers and a routine I was used to, overcoming the learning curve of being a first time parent, and so on. While I’m certainly no expert, living through so many large scale changes in such a comparatively short amount of time did lend me the following less about dealing with change (and lots of it) quickly:
Change Requires Mental Processing
Change is not just something that we “deal” with, it’s something we experience—usually at all ‘levels’ of self, meaning physically, emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually. For example, a job change will affect our physical and mental routine and will likely affect us on an emotional level as we say goodbye to co-workers and the normalcy of the past few years.
Because it’s something we experience so entirely, it is also something which we need to process—this may require time, space, and/or a physical or mental break to ensure we are taking care of ourselves. In cases where change is more drastic, sitting down and discussing the change with a trusted friend or counselor may also prove beneficial.
It’s Okay To Have Varying Emotions
Oftentimes when we experience a life change, we are also met with a set of societal expectations regarding our reactions. If we get engaged, the expected emotion is happiness. But if that engagement requires that we move across the country from our family, we may also feel sadness and guilt alongside that, because our emotions are outside the realm of what is expected. That’s why we need to realize that it is okay to have varying emotions surrounding change. Just because a change is overall a positive one doesn’t mean we can’t feel sadness, loss or uncertainty surrounding it. On the contrary, allowing ourselves to feel whatever it is that we are feeling is an important part of processing change in a healthy way.
It’s Important To Have A Village
You’ve probably heard the phrase “it takes a village”. Not only is it “okay” to lean on the support of others but I would argue it is also necessary to have a “village” or “tribe”—a support networking surrounding you as you undergo change. Whether this is a few, close friends or family members or an entire church community, remembering that we are relational beings and that we literally need each other is key.
Oftentimes we are quick to try to ‘go it alone’ out of fear of burdening others or appearing weak—but there is such strength in having a community you can depend on and that strength will play an imperative role in helping you navigate whatever change you are facing.
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
As you go through a major life change that requires all sorts and levels of transition, remember not to get too hung up on the little details. As an avid planner, I found myself stressing on the day of the move from our rental to new home about the smallest of things—which boxes what items were being placed in, what flavor of coffee to buy for the friends coming to help us. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to step back and realize that not every aspect of this change had to be planned down to the detail. Go easy on yourself and truly, don’t sweat the small stuff.
How To Value The “Gift” In The Present
Aside from being an avid planner, I’d also consider myself a dreamer, which means I could get lost in thinking about and planning for future things and/or reminiscing on the past for hours if I had the time. As change comes around and over you, take a second to step back and revel in whatever moment you’re in. Find the beauty in it, if you can (even if it’s difficult to). Think of the things about this moment you may miss in the future and be grateful for that as its happening. Just from personal experience, life may suddenly seem a little less overwhelming.
As Much As You’re Able To, Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
Between our social and professional lives, it can sometimes feel like we are always being tasked with responsibilities. So amidst change, it is important to be able to prioritize what is important and learn to say “no” when necessary. For those of who us who are people-pleasers, this can be especially difficult, but saying ‘no’ to tasks that are above our means can help to significantly reduce stress especially during times of transition. Remember, it’s not selfish to take time to care for yourself.
Whether it’s moving, beginning a new job, or even facing an unexpected pregnancy, change can feel like the weight of the world on our shoulders. However, when we face change both good and bad, knowing that we are supported and giving ourselves the chance to take time to process it, we can move forward a little less overwhelmed and a little more at peace.