Full disclosure – I’m new here. Not here to Bluffton, but here to this practice. It’s been almost two months now, and I’m starting to settle in. As someone who has previously been on their own as a counselor, joining an established practice was a big change. Would I fit in? Would the clients relate to me? Would the other counselors accept me?
While these thoughts may be typical of anyone starting a new job, it got me thinking of how people manage changes in their lives, and how we can help them. Some people thrive on constant change, and others find it anxiety producing. I have seen friends, family members and clients alternately paralyzed with anxiety by changes, or embracing it as a new phase in their lives.
Most people can agree that too many changes at once can be overwhelming. We’ve all heard about the Big Three – a move, a job change and a marriage all at once. For some people however, any one of those changes can be enough to cause anxiety. So how can we manage life changes, particularly for those who don’t embrace it?
We can start by asking ourselves if the change is necessary, and will it be good for us down the road? If so, we can focus on the positivity of that change and all it will bring.
Very often, it is the unknown factor of changes that are anxiety producing, and we wonder and worry about how they will affect our lives. Some changes bring us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes we can reframe the situation to focus on the positive aspects of the change, such as uncovering hidden strengths, the potential for new experiences, and the like.
For example, last year I took a trip to Costa Rica, where I had never been, for a yoga retreat which I had never done, with five days of vegan food, which I had never solely eaten, as I am not a vegan. Until a friend finally agreed to go with me, I also would not have known anyone else on the trip. I took a chance, and it paid off. I learned that I enjoyed yoga even more than I thought I did, I explored a new place, made new friends, and learned that I could eat as a vegan if necessary! The point is that I tried to make a change by trying something new and discovered all sorts of things about myself I wouldn’t have otherwise known.
We can remind ourselves that it is OK to have an adjustment period, that it is OK to need time to finish one change before moving on to another. We also may need to be reminded that taking time for some good old self care is OK as well. Perhaps taking an extra yoga or exercise class, sitting down for an hour to watch a favorite show, taking a walk with the dog, sitting down and reading a book, or whatever works for each of us.
Of course many changes are necessary, not all can wait, and not all are our own choices, but it is how we handle them that is important. Taking time to reflect on them, and accept how we feel about them, is an often overlooked aspect of managing life changes.