If there is one thing that I know for sure it’s that life is never constant. We are always facing change or in the midst of change. Humans are creatures of habit and we’re comfortable with routine. I’ll be the first to tell you that routine is a good thing and having a solid routine helps to lessen stress in both children and adults.
Unfortunately, Life didn’t get the memo on what helps us to have the least amount of stress. Life is always bringing us new challenges and change. My best advice is to expect it and learn how to cope with it so that your stress is kept at bay during difficult periods of transition.
Which Life Changes Create Stress?
Did you know that even positive life events, such as getting a new job, marriage, moving to a new home or increasing your salary can cause stress? If you’re interested in estimating your level of stress from major life events, check out the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale on MindTools.com.
When I practiced family therapy I often reminded families in crisis that the biggest chance of dysfunction comes during times of change or transition. If a family can make it through a major change without turning on each other, they will be okay in the end. This even includes divorce. If a couple can keep the divorce amicable, they will lessen their stress and, most importantly, the stress of their children if they have any.
How Long Does it Take to Adjust to a Life Change?
Since marrying my husband over 14 years ago, we seem to have had our fair share of change. One thing that I have noticed is that it takes me about 18 months to adjust to a life change. I didn’t feel “normal” until about 18 months after my children were born, for instance.
I didn’t adjust to working outside of the home until about 18 months after I began. I remember the day that I realized that I had adjusted and that working outside of the home was no longer stressful. My home life and my work life seemed to flow and I no longer felt as if I had two different lives. My routine was settled and I was able to accomplish everything I need to get done in both areas.
If you are a few months in to a new normal but are still feeling stressed or off-kilter, give yourself time. Adjustment can’t be forced and may take longer than you planned. Be gentle with yourself and with others who are also affected by the life change.
How to Cope with Change
Here are five ways that I’ve learned to cope with change in order to ease into a new lifestyle with less stress.
Keep a record of the changes and of your feelings about the changes. This is a great outlet and a good way to record how far you’ve come.
2. Lose your pride
If you’re going through a difficult time, keeping it hidden is not in your best interest. This is the time to reach out to your support system and be humble. You need people in corner now.
3. Get enough sleep.
Getting plenty of sleep (and eating real food) is my physical first line of defense during stressful times. Your body needs to be pampered so that it can replenish the nutrients that stress depletes.
Find time every day to sit silently and be aware of how your body feels. Use this time to imagine the best case scenario outcome for your time of transition and try to feel the emotions you will feel when your desired outcome occurs.
If your life change occurred because you or someone else made a mistake that disrupted your life, now is the time to start practicing forgiveness. Forgive yourself if your mistake brought about the change. If someone else caused your life to change, remember that forgiveness is all about you feeling better and not about dismissing what someone else did to you. Forgiveness is about letting yourself move on, even if you’ve had to cut that person out of your life to help your life be better.
How do you deal with change?