Coping With Change

How to keep up without running yourself down

Particularly after the last few years, sometimes the only thing in life that feels constant is change. World affairs are always evolving, technology is always transforming, and frequently we find ourselves experiencing “the first ever” of something.

So when the footing underneath you is constantly shifting, how do you stay standing? Backed by psychology, here are some tips to help you keep balanced.

Brace yourself, but don’t resist

Change may be inevitable, but change itself isn’t what paralyzes us-it’s our fear of it. When our first reaction is “not another one,” or “no, go away, I don’t want this,” we attach anxiety, or even anger, to change. The unknown can be scary, but if you see change as a natural part of life, you can prepare yourself to face it rather than exhausting yourself resisting it. Think of change like quicksand-the more you fight it, the faster it will overwhelm you.

Go with the flow

While the concept of “rolling with the punches” may be a cliché, there’s a reason it’s so popular. You may not be able to stop the hits from coming or predict what’s coming next, but moving with the current gives you time to slow down, breathe, and decide where to go from there. It doesn’t mean you have to tap out or immediately jump back up; it just means you can calmly plan your next move. 

Make choices

Part of what makes change so alarming is that it feels like something that happens “to” us rather than something in which we choose to participate. But every change in life brings us an opportunity to make choices. Sometimes a situation yields many possible directions to take, but even when it seems like you’re facing an impossible path, you can always choose how to react and how to approach problem-solving. Creating a stress management plan to follow when you’re feeling overwhelmed can be useful for avoiding decisions led by pressure.

Accept that you can’t control everything

Even if we choose to react to a tough situation with calmness and neutrality, we can still feel trapped or thrown off balance by a lack of agency. Rather than fixating on what you can’t control, identify what you can and work to resolve that. Acknowledging that you don’t have ultimate power over everything frees you up to channel your power where it can actually make a difference.

Focus on the present

When our world is spinning, it’s easy to get swept up and overwhelmed by snowballing or spiraling about future “what ifs.” Instead of worrying about what you could do to set up a more stable future, focus on what you can do now to make this situation better. Move one step at a time, and the distance between where you are and where you’re going-even if you don’t know where that is-will be much easier to manage.