How to cope with change

I have to be honest – I’m not good at change.

And, last week, there was a lot of change in my life. Last Monday, I moved an hour and a half away from Oakland County (where I have lived my entire life) to Lansing, and Tuesday I started a communications job with the State of Michigan. 

Everyone has moments, good or bad, when their whole life changes. And being at the precipice of that change is, well, really stressful. For me, a couple days after the move, I had one of the worst panic attacks I've ever had. I felt like a kid again as I thought to myself, "What if they don't like me? What if I'm not good at this?"

Does anyone else have this happen? That, even when the change is good, you can't help but freak out?

I think change is stressful because it brings uncertainty. At my previous job, I liked knowing what I was doing. And now, here I am, starting back at square one.

According to psychologists, the older you get, the more scared you are of change because you are more rooted in your daily schedule. But, in life, besides death and taxes, change really is one of the only inevitable things. So, how can you cope -- without having a complete mental breakdown (which, let me tell you from experience, is not fun)?
  • Allow yourself to freak out but make sure not to fixate on what you lost - Relationship and family therapist Roger S. Gil told "Do all the crying, kicking, and screaming you need to do; then start to seek out ways to make your new situation more livable and enjoyable. Fixating on what was lost as a result of the change will prevent us from experiencing the good things that our new circumstances can bring us."
  • Ask others for help - Whether it's family, friends, fellow employees, a counselor or a support group, don't be afraid to talk to someone about how you're feeling. 
  • Take extra care of your emotional and physical health - If you're facing a new change, make sure to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, etc., according to a press release by the Iowa National Guard
  • Find time to relax - Take time for relaxation techniques, like yoga or meditation, every day. Do something to take your mind off of the stress, like watching a funny movie.  
  • Research - To ease your uncertainty, do as much research as you can about the change you are going through.  
  • If you can help it, don't make any more big changes - Pace yourself. Try to postpone making any other big decisions, if you can help it, until you adjust to this one. 
  • Live in the moment - Focus on the task at hand so you won't get overwhelmed. Don't think so far in the future about how this change will affect the rest of your life. Instead, think about what you will do today. 
  • Think about the positives of change -  Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., coauthor of the book Saying Yes to Change, told, "People who greet what life offers with curiosity have stronger immune systems and live longer." Think of change as a new adventure and opportunity for growth. After all, life would be pretty boring if there was no change and life, every day, was exactly the same.

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