Lessons on coping with change: Dealing with that which we don’t want to deal with.
Besides death and taxes, change is the only other certainty in life.
Sometimes change is welcome.
But a lot of times, it involves our life suddenly going off on a tangent. It means huge adjustments that catapult us way outside our comfort zone. Sometimes it brings stuff we really don’t want to deal with. Coping with change often involves wrapping our heads around adverse events or uncomfortable realities. Yet, at the same time, we are trying to hold on to our positive self-image and struggling to maintain our emotional balance.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all alone together in the biggest change the world has seen in recent times. However, it has also brought forth a wave of life lessons, should we choose to look at it that way.
How do we usually respond to this discomfort? By running squarely in the opposite direction. Change demands our time and energy, which is why we have an evolutionary mechanism to combat it- the fight or flight response.
If your typical response to change is to feel anxious, complain, get stressed, and not know what to do, you are not alone. Indeed, this is the most common response to a change of any kind. However, we also hold within us the ability to process change in a manner that serves us, helps us grow, and enables us to make the changes we need to make to move on.
Often, change continues to feel uncomfortable because we don’t get a chance to sit with it enough. The world demands a reaction. A response. And so we provide it. The best thing to do when things change, we’re finding, is to sit with the discomfort for as long as we need to. The only thing we need not to do is get carried away by our fears. Instead, being mindfully present to change and grounding ourselves in today's reality can help us cope with change better.
Here are ten other ways to cope with major changes, a compilation of sorts, of the coping strategies we have seen around us.
1. Marie Kondo-ing one’s life. Chances are, you know someone who came out of 2020’s lockdown with a new perspective on life, of deciding to keep only that which “sparks joy.” Cleaning out your social media, your home, or toxic relationships is nothing but a way of understanding priorities and recalibrating your life.
2. Acknowledging the change. Resisting change is like trying to resist the waves of the sea. Remaining in denial about change does not do anyone, especially you, any favours.
3. Enjoying the here and now. To trot out the cliche once again, “this too shall pass.” Find joy in the little things that surround you at the moment.
4. Take care of your body and spirit. Nourish them well with nutritious food and healthy thoughts.
5. Embrace practicality. The “action” part follows acknowledging the change, so roll up your sleeves and go for it. Carve a routine and stick to it. Clean up your living and workspaces, your mailbox, and sharpen the tools of your trade, whatever it might be. Learn a new skill. Put your best foot forward.
6. Exercise well and put your heart into it. A healthy mind can’t help but thrive in a healthy body. It will also help you sleep well. Sleep is one of the best adaptogens out there!
7. Laugh it out. As Lyn Carol put it, “Learn to laugh at yourself, and you will never run out of things to laugh at!” Having a sense of humour really is one of the best coping mechanisms. In addition, your special brand of humour invariably helps you find your tribe/support system.
8. Help the less privileged. Everyone has something to give, not necessarily cash, that betters things around them.
9. Same storm, different boats. Acknowledge that other individuals are fighting their own battles, too. In times of stressful change, relationships can sour. Be understanding but give others the space they may need.
10. Change of scene. This one may not be for everybody, but radically change your physical surroundings if nothing else works. A change of scenery, a different neighbourhood, different faces around you change the energy of your situation. At the very least, redecorate. Controllable change is the best antidote to the blues we feel when thrust into an unknown situation.