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While we may be enjoying these last days of summer, autumn will soon sweep in. Insisting it is time to move on. Fall is a master teacher of change and transition.
We are creatures of habit and partly is because our brain was designed for survival and to keep us safe. So, when things start to change around and within us we push against it.
Change self-initiated or not, moves us through a transition zone which often creates a sense of groundlessness. It can be unsettling, even scary, to be in the in between state of letting go of what we have known to allow for something new to emerge. However challenging the change is, it is simply healthier on so many levels to simply go forward with the flow rather than inhibit it.
Here are some tips that Dr. Stephanie Sarkis recommends we do to cope with change.
1. Acknowledge that things are changing.
Sometimes we get so caught up in fighting change that we put off actually dealing with it. However, stepping outside of it and saying to yourself, "Things are changing, and it is okay" can be less stressful than putting it off.
2. Realize that even good change can cause stress.
Sometimes when people go through a positive life change, such as graduating or having a baby, they still feel a great deal of stress—or even dread. Keep in mind that positive change can create stress just like not-so-positive change. Stress is just your body's way of reacting to change.
3. Keep up your regular schedule as much as possible.
The more change that is happening, the more important it is to stick to your regular schedule—as much as possible. Having some things that stay the same, like walking the dog every morning at 8 am, gives us an anchor. An anchor is a reminder that some things are still the same, and it gives your brain a little bit of a rest.
4. Try to eat as healthily as possible.
When change happens, a lot of us tend to reach for carbs—bread, muffins, cake, etc. This may be because eating carbs boosts serotonin—a brain chemical that may be somewhat depleted when you undergo change (stress). It's okay to soothe yourself with comfort foods—in moderation. One way to track what you are eating is to write it down. You can either do this in a notebook or use an app. When you see what you are eating, it makes you take a step back and think about whether you want to eat that second muffin or not. (If you have a history of eating disorders, it is not recommended that you write down what you are eating.) Also notice if you are experiencing an increased use of alcohol or other substances; your use can sneak up on you when you are under stress.
Keeping up regular exercise could be a part of the "keep up your regular schedule" tip. If exercise is not currently part of your routine, try adding it. Exercising two to three times a week has been found to significantly decrease symptoms of depression (Barclay, et al. 2014.) Even just walking around the block can help you feel better. (Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.) Remember, you don't have to feel like getting some exercise; just get out there and move. You'll find that many times your motivation will kick in while you are active.
6. Write down the positives that have come from this change.
Maybe due to this change in your life you have met new people. Maybe you started practicing healthier habits. Maybe you became more assertive. Maybe the change helped you prioritize what is most important in your life. Change presents us with the opportunity to grow, and it's important to acknowledge how things have become better as a result.
7. Seek support.
No one gets through life alone. It is okay to ask for help; that's a sign that you know yourself well enough to realize you need some assistance. Think of your trusted friends, family members, Coach or Mentor. Chances are that they are happy to help if you need them to watch your kids while you run some errands, or if you just need some alone time. There may be a neighbor who has asked you for help in the past—now maybe you can ask them for help. Apps like NextDoor have been helpful for connecting neighbors. If you are thinking about hurting yourself or killing yourself, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-8255.
"Change is inevitable, growth is optional" ~ John C. Maxwell
For additional information on how Grace helps her clients with change and lifestyle transitions go to www.lifejourneycoaching.net or 586-246-1123