Surf the Waves of Change and Land Safely Ashore
In various corporate wellness programs and in a recent online webinar that I taught, I spoke about the importance of learning how to embrace change in our lives. As a holistic health counselor, I am often asking my clients to consider making changes in their lifestyle and in their food choices so that they can live a healthier and happier life. The problem is that people typically resist change. Helping someone embrace instead of dread change has become a key part of my focus in helping others.
The fact of the matter is that if there is one thing in life that never changes is that things in life will never stop changing! So, to help me study and understand our resistance to change and to provide my clients with ways to deal with change better, I consulted two books on the subject:
Ariane de Bonvoisin’s “The First 30 Days: Your Guide to Any Change and Loving Your Life More” and William Bridge’s “How you Can Handle Change Better” are both wonderful resources. In the book by William Bridges, the U.S. Submarine Service did research that identified the best predictor of someone needing hospitalization in the coming year is the amount of change they had been through in the previous year. So, it has become evident that the stress related to life changes has a huge impact on our health. Learning to surf the waves of life’s changes is a key skill for staying healthy.
So, life is full of change. As a matter of fact, life changes are how you got to where you are today. We really can’t avoid change but we certainly can learn how to deal with it better. It is helpful to think back to changes that happened in your life and how you handled them. For example, going to school for the first time when you entered kindergarten or first grade, or graduating and entering college or the work force or getting married and moving in with your spouse etc… All of these are huge life changes that we’ve all been though. If you think about how many life changes you have experienced, then you will realize that you actually are a pro at this and are well prepared to deal with any changes that life throws your way.
Here are some key points to consider:
- Change happens to us all so actually it is something we all have in common.
- Life transitions are ultimately positive. Think about the new people, places and opportunities that opened for you as a result of change. Maybe a change has helped you to develop stronger faith or even better health and happiness.
- Your attitude is everything. If your belief is that change is difficult, it will be. Instead, if you believe that change exists to teach you something or to put you on a new and better path, then transition will not be so daunting.
- Allow the old to end first and don’t be afraid to let yourself mourn the old for a bit. Don’t expect to feel fantastic at first. Even if a change is a positive one, it is very common to feel sad about what may be leaving your life. Actually, I remember when I first got married (which was a highly positive experience at the time), I found myself crying as I moved out of my parents’ home. So, do not beat yourself up for feeling sad or remorseful in some way. This is actually completely normal and to be expected. Once you feel any combination of feelings, let it go. Accept the change, say goodbye to the old way of living, and move forward with great hope and open up to all wonderful possibilities.
- Don’t get stuck in the past and lose your ability to move forward! Allow yourself to move through expected stages of change. Instead of focusing on the discomfort of change, you hopefully will find yourself saying “oh yeah – this is how change is supposed to feel.”
- Stage 1 – doubt, discomfort, comparing old with the new
- Stage 2 – begin doing more to gather information on how to make your new life work
- Stage 3 – arrive and accept the new so much that you wouldn’t have it any other way
- Try to be mindful and stay in the moment. If you find yourself constantly regretting the past or worrying about the future, then you are not being in the moment. In the moment is a wonderful place to be. Generally, when you are in the moment, you are more calm and peaceful and positive because you are not focusing on the past or future. You are paying attention to where you are right now and finding gratitude for something in this moment.
- Take small steps as you navigate through the change and if you get off course, allow your internal GPS to reroute you back on the course to reach your goals. Everyone gets off course from time-to-time so take a deep breath, laugh at yourself and get back to it. By taking small steps forward, you will not get too off course too quickly.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t forget to do all of those things that I teach so passionately, including sleep well, drink plenty of water, exercise and be sure to eat well. All of these simple actions will support your body during time of stress and keep you calmer emotionally.
- Find or create a change support team. Find someone in your life that will support you and encourage you while you move through changes or surround yourself with supportive people. Being with like-minded folks always helps further encourage and inspire you to live the life of your dreams.
- Do something for someone else. When you offer your love or services to someone in need, you will tend to take the focus off of your own concerns. Giving love and kindness to others will bring more of that into your life.
- Tap into your spiritual strength. Don’t hesitate to turn to prayer or meditation or spending time in nature doing anything that brings you peace. Journaling your thoughts may also be helpful. When you go inward and build the strength of your true spirit, then you will flow more easily along the changes of life and find yourself in a healthier, happier and more vibrant place than you may have ever been without these glorious changes.