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How to deal with big changes in your life

"The best and worst thing about human beings is their ceaseless ability to adapt."

As someone who isn't a huge fan of change, but who nevertheless has found herself in almost constantly changing circumstances, this statement has always resonated.

At times, it can seem like change is the only constant in our lives. However, I would argue that there's comfort to found in the reliability change. Especially when we find ourselves in less than ideal situations or environments, change can be a much-needed promise of reprieve.

Still, that doesn't make change any easier to navigate when it comes.

What follows are some of the things that have helped me cope when faced with changes, particularly unwelcome ones.

  1. Find a touchstone. During a 10-year stretch of my life, I moved a total of fourteen times. This often coincided or was prompted by other changes like switching jobs or going back to school. Something I found helpful throughout the process was implementing a portable way to make my mark on my new living quarters. In my case, this was through pictures and wall-hangings. This small touch kept things feeling like home, even when my address continued to change.

  2. Lean on your network. One drawback of our increasingly global society is that the important people in your life aren't always going to be close by. Luckily, technology has made your loved ones more accessible than ever before. Don't be afraid to reach out to them, especially whenever you embark on a new adventure. It can help to not only make you feel less alone, but they can serve as an important mirror to help provide a trusted perspective as you tackle new challenges.

  3. Give yourself time to adjust. It can be tempting to try and settle into a new change immediately. After all, change can often be super uncomfortable. However, I've found that building in the time and space to learn and make mistakes can help take some of the edge off when you're trying to navigate something new. Instead of assuming that you'll adjust quickly, take for granted that it might take a while for things to feel "normal" again.

  4. Identify the necessities. We all have different needs. In times of stress, these needs become even more important. If you can, take a moment to identify the things that rise to the surface for you in difficult times. Are you someone who needs to sleep at least 8 hours a night? Will you start to get grumpy and overwhelmed if you don't build in some alone time? Are morning runs (or coffee, or donuts) essential to your well-being? Figure out the things that make you function and prioritize them throughout a change.

  5. Remind yourself that this too, will pass. Finally, if all else fails and it seems like this change is just one of those that you need to ride out, try to repeat the mantra that just like the good things, the bad things are also not forever. Eventually this change will either change again or it will begin to feel more comfortable.

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