Coping with change is difficult — whether it’s a positive change, like a promotion with additional responsibilities, or a negative change, like a job loss.
Many people struggle with stress and anxiety during transitional periods. While these feelings are normal, there are also steps you can take to manage them and prevent them from taking over your life.
Below, you’ll find some therapeutic activities to help you cope with change and manage your mental health during difficult periods.
Make Plans Early
Sometimes, change comes out of nowhere, and there’s no way to prepare for it. In other cases, though, you know that something big is coming, even if you don’t know precisely when.
Be proactive instead of sitting around and dreading the worst.
Say you know that your company has a round of layoffs coming up in a couple of months. Start thinking now about companies where you might apply if you’re one of the unlucky ones, or begin updating your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Change Your Mindset
It’s easy to feel sad, disappointed, or nervous when change happens — even positive change. Spending too much time focusing on these emotions can exacerbate them and cause you to feel worse, though.
Strive to be more aware of your thoughts and thought patterns. Then, work on rephrasing the things you say to yourself to make them more positive.
For example, instead of telling yourself you don’t deserve a raise or promotion, reframe the message and tell yourself that you worked hard and have earned it.
Another way to cope with change is to focus on the things you’re grateful for. Prioritizing gratitude during difficult times can help you maintain perspective and remember that you still have positive things going for you.
Consider making a list every day of three things you’re grateful for. You could also listen to a daily gratitude meditation if you need a little extra guidance.
Reflect on the Past
It’s okay to think about how things used to be and reflect on the positive elements of the past. Give yourself some time to grieve or miss the way things used to be.
However, be careful not to spend too much time ruminating. If you dedicate all your time to thinking about the past, you’ll miss the good things that are happening in the present.
Maintain Normalcy Where You Can
Many people dislike change because they don’t like the feeling of not being in control.
It’s true that you can’t control everything. However, you can handle more than you might initially think.
You might be troubled by upcoming layoffs or restructuring at your company. Instead of trying to control something that’s way above your pay grade, focus on the things you can manage and try to maintain normalcy wherever you can.
For example, you can continue waking up at the same time, eating the same meals, doing the same activities with your partner or children, etc.
You might be tempted to stress-eat and indulge in sweet treats or fast food during a period of change. It’s okay to treat yourself, but remember that overdoing it with unhealthy food can cause you to feel worse.
If you’re already stressed and add blood sugar spikes and drops or sluggishness from a fried food feast into the mix, you’ll have a more challenging time focusing on the things that matter most to you.
It can be helpful to keep up your exercise routine during this transitionary stage, too.
If you walk every morning or go to yoga classes in the evenings, continue those activities as much as possible. They’ll help you maintain normalcy where you can and produce mood-boosting endorphins that can combat stress.
Find Comfort Where You Can
If you’re struggling with anxiety, sadness, or other negative emotions while dealing with change, look for small ways to bring more comfort into your life. It could be as simple as watching a favorite movie or TV show in the evenings, calling a friend, or taking a hot bath.
Keep in mind that not all sources of comfort are created equal.
The idea of drinking, smoking, or consuming other harmful substances might sound appealing at first. The ramifications of those behaviors are unlikely to help you feel your best long-term, though.
Minimize Your Social Media Use
Some people find comfort in social media, but for others, it can be a source of extra stress.
When things are going wrong in your life, or if you’re just dealing with a significant change that has put you on edge, scrolling social media and looking at other people’s highlight reels could make you feel worse.
If you notice that you feel sadder, angrier, or more anxious after looking at Instagram or Facebook, consider logging off until things in your life balance out a bit more. You may also want to set limits on your phone to minimize the amount of time you spend on the most problematic (for you) apps.
Don’t Suppress Your Feelings
If you’re having trouble coping with change, talk to someone about what you’re feeling and experiencing.
Whether it’s a spouse, a friend, a colleague, or a therapist, expressing yourself instead of suppressing your feelings can help. Even if all they do is listen and they don’t offer any advice, you’ll be amazed at how much lighter you feel afterward.
Change the Way You Cope with Change
If you don’t like change or struggle to deal with it, you’re not alone. With the help of the strategies listed above, though, you’ll have an easier time overcoming the hurdles of a transitionary period and coming out stronger on the other side.
Remember that building your mental and emotional resilience now can help you manage change when it inevitably comes your way.
The BetterYou app can help you establish healthy habits like meditation and getting more sleep with personalized goals, consistent progress tracking, and timely nudges to keep you on track.
Contact us today to learn more, or give the app a try.