One of the truths of this world is that everything changes. The weather changes. You change. The environment changes. Indeed, everything in the world has patterns that repeat, like the seasons, in an ongoing pattern or sequence of change. We in turn, develop our own behavioral patterns to help make our world a little more predictable and easier to cope with. Managing your experienced changes however, is usually stressful. We know that you cannot manage (or control) what happens to you. You can only control how you respond to changes.
Since change is inevitable and ongoing, responding to it can also be stressful. Even good changes, such as a promotion, marriage or new baby can throw our routines off. Some changes are predictable and allow us to adapt and others just come at us out of left field. When you are feeling or exhibiting signs of being overwhelmed and stressed out by change, it is time to revisit tried-and-true stress- management techniques for healthy coping.
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There is a direct correlation between how we manage the stress related to change and our physical and mental health. For example, we know there is a direct connection between heart disease and other major illness and stress. Here are some helpful strategies for effectively managing your responses to the stress of change.
If you are still alive, no doubt you have managed changes in your life effectively. So you may want to revisit the stress management techniques you used in the past. Review which ones worked well and which ones didn't work well at all. Then put the successful stress management techniques into practice again.
Some of the most effective change-management techniques may include:
- Predict & plan for change whenever possible.
- Deal with issues or the things you can before they become overwhelming.
- Re-prioritize your work goals and tasks as well as your personal ones.
- Make sure to carve out time for physical activity every day.
- Do not skip meals or resort to fast food
- Delegate household chores to other family members or hire to have them completed.
- Take short breaks to practice relaxed breathing, muscle relaxation, or meditation.
- Put a positive spin on negative thoughts - what you say to yourself makes a big difference.
- Understand that change is inevitable and do not "should" on yourself.
- Recognize types of life changes that can lead to stress and what your specific triggers are.
- Learn the warning signs of stress, such as anxiety, sleep problems, irritability or mood swings.
- Nourish a strong support system of family and friends you can turn to in times of stressful change.
- Identify and then act on healthy strategies for dealing with the stressors you can control.
- Strengthen your resilience skills, which have helped you adapt to and cope well with change and hardship.
- Be patient and compassionate with yourself. It is not a personal failing if at first you don’t manage change well. It is not a character flaw if you make mistakes relevant to how well you deal with change.
You already have the skills to manage stress. You've managed stress successfully before and can do it again. Refer back to what works! Remember, during times of extreme stress or crisis, or when self-care measures aren't working, consider getting professional assistance.