We are creatures of habit. We tend to follow similar routines every day – whether we brush our teeth or wash our face first in the morning, drinking our morning coffee or tea, sitting in the same spot on the bus to school or work, etc. When any part of our routine or what we are used to is thrown off, we feel discomfort and imbalanced. A change has occurred.
Change is constant. There are small changes with little impact and there are big changes with tremendous impact. Some changes are planned and intentional, some are unexpected and are out of our control. Everyone handles change in their own way depending on their experiences, their circumstances, and their community. Working from home, remote learning, changes in schedules, quarantine restrictions – these are some examples of changes faced during the pandemic.
Now what happens when there is change? How do we handle and cope with change?
Below are FIVE ways to cope with change:
- Feel the feelings. When change happens, we may feel all kinds of emotions. It is okay to feel happy, upset, angry, frustrated, annoyed. Allow ourselves to laugh, cry, or yell. The Institute of Mental Health (2012) stated that change usually involves some type of loss and it is okay to grieve. Let the emotions out so that we can focus on how to handle the change.
- Point out positives. Change can be scary. Look at the change as a positive challenge and ask: What are the benefits of this change? How can this change be an opportunity? How can we make the best of this situation? Find the good in the change.
- Be proactive. Accept the change and make a plan for how to deal with the change. Identify the problem and what is within our control. What can we do to make this change easier to process? This allows us to have a focus and a sense of direction. Do not dwell on what is beyond our control.
- Be kind to ourselves. Change happens to everyone and it is important to not take it personally. It is easy to beat and blame ourselves and ask “What if I…?” However, we do not want to spiral down a rabbit hole and get stuck. Recognise that these are difficult times and offer ourselves extra kindness and compassion.
- Seek out support. If the change is too much to handle alone, seek out help. Help can come in different forms. It could be the people around us – our partner, family, friends, peers, community members. There are also professionals who can help, including counsellors, therapists, or groups. We are not alone.