Maintaining Wellness in Times of Change
Change and transitions can be hard to navigate. Not only may you be experiencing the seasonal change, but perhaps something is ending or beginning like school or a job. Perhaps you’re experiencing life-changes. Is your change wanted? Is it self-imposed? Or is it a change that feels thrust upon you? However change is showing up in your life, there are some ways to maintain a sense of wellness. We’ve pulled together a hit-list of ways to embrace and manage change.
Whether you’re entering, exiting, or changing a school environment, these transitions bring about their own set of challenges. Perhaps you’ve shed an identity as a student and are moving towards becoming a professional. Perhaps you’ve changed majors which has thrust you into new classes and new peer circle. Maybe you’ve just entered school and are still seeking ways to settle in. Here are some ideas to keep handy.
- Hold onto routines that work for you. If you’re used to talking a walk in the mornings, keep it up. Keeping even small routines can help you roll with the other changes. If you’re exiting school and don’t have a job lined up yet – maintaining a structure to your day can help you stay sane during your newfound freedom.
- Maintain contact. It can get easy to lose track of friends as the semester rolls along but isolation can lead to greater feelings of unhappiness. Finding ways to stay in touch, especially with friends that may be navigating their own set of change challenges, can help maintain your sense of wellness.
- Manage expectations. Transitioning out of your identity as a student can feel a little like a blessing and a curse. Recent grads have to go through tough challenges as they decide on next steps. Know that you’re not alone in the uncertainty that next steps bring. Talking to other recent grads and people that have been there can be one step in managing expectations around activities like job-hunting, grad & post-grad applications, relocations, and more.
Work/ Career Transitions
Work can often be a place of stress; changing careers or work locations adds new layers of excitement and stress. Here are tips to keep handy for navigating changes of work environment and career paths.
- Mind the curve! It can be hard to pinpoint where to begin at a new job, especially when you feel like you need to learn it all right away. Remember to slow down and be mindful that you have a learning curve. While keeping your larger goal in mind (which is probably to know EVERYTHING!) create smaller daily and weekly challenges that allow you to target your learning while staying compassionate in your learning process.
- Ask a question a day. We’ve all experienced the fear that can come with asking questions – especially if it’s coupled with a feeling that we’re somehow supposed to know the answer. This seems especially true for many people in the first 3 months of a new job. Practice shamelessly asking for what you need or want to know in the first 30 days of your job. Chances are, you’ll come out with more information and knowledge than if you stayed silent and other newcomers will think you brave for asking questions that they aren’t asking.
- Document successes and growing points. This is a great practice as you’re getting settled at your new job. Each week, document your successes. Maybe it was speaking up during a staff meeting, asking a question every day, learning a new skill, or having lunch with a co-worker. Your successes can be whatever you define them as and keeping track of them weekly helps you acknowledge your progress. Not wanting to pat yourself on the back too much? That’s where monitoring your growing points comes in handy. You may be identifying some areas that are challenging for you. Noting your growing points are gentle ways of acknowledging areas of struggle which allows you to make a plan while continuing to celebrate the places you are achieving success.
These transitions can range wildly from managing apartment moves, moving to a new city, or changing status from single to married or vice versa. Maybe there’s a new addition to the family like a child or a pet. Life transitions can even encompass lifestyle choices that may impact everything from what you eat to your daily routine. The following broad-based tips can be useful to remember in the face of any of these changes.
- Make value-driven choices. We all have values. While these values may shift and change over the years, taking time to re-acquaint yourself with your values can prove priceless in the face of life changes. By identifying your values, you may find yourself able to make value-based choices and find ways to move towards the value despite changes. For example, if one of your values is centered around being connected (with others and in what you do), you might ask yourself each day: Given where I am, where is there an opportunity today to practice connectedness?
- Find your inner peace. Life transitions can be the most daunting changes we experience and when everything seems to be out of control, finding your inner peace can create a sense of grounding and wellness. Some find their inner peace when they’re out for a jog, others may experience it when listening to music, and still for others, it may be just the short moments of private time in the bathroom. Wherever yours may be, cultivating awareness of when and what it is and engaging with intention can help stabilize you even the most daunting changes.
- Practice Radical Acceptance. How many times do we find ourselves getting stuck in non-acceptance thoughts like: “This cannot be happening!” or “It’s not supposed to be like this.” While we might not always want to face a life transition, getting stuck in these non-acceptance thoughts often drains our energy and doesn’t allow us to have any place of movement. Practicing radical acceptance doesn’t mean you’re tricking yourself into enjoying the change, but rather it allows you to fully accept what is happening and figure out an opportunity to do something within that reality. Radical acceptance statements can sound like: “I didn’t want this to happen, but it is happening,” or “I never imagined it would be like this and yet, it is.” By accepting the reality of what is happening, we can then ask the question: “Now what do I want to do given this reality?” Coping thoughts can also be helpful as well as we navigate unwelcome changes such as: “This will only last for a short period of time,” or “I am safe and this will pass.” Coming up with your own radical acceptance and coping statements and writing them down can be a helpful tool.
Want to know about how to manage seasonal transitions? Read more here: Fall Wellness Tips
Working through changes and transitions and want extra support? Click here to connect with affirming and competent therapists!