COUNSELOR’S CORNER: 5 Strategies for Coping with Change

Elysia Tucker, LPC, ADC
is the Executive Director of
Southern Wellness Services, Inc.

As another school year is winding down, one thing becomes certain: change is part of life. Going to college, getting a summer job, moving to a new home, ending or beginning a relationship, having a child leave the home… The list could go on. Good or bad, change can be stressful. Here are some tactics to help with the transitions you are facing.
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings – Even positive changes can be scary. Be sure to listen to your feelings without judging them as right or wrong. Change is harder for some people than it is for others, and having a little anxiety or fear about something new is normal. Stuffing your feelings or trying to avoid them can increase the anxiety you feel. So, take time to be aware of what you are feeling. Are you excited and happy about this next phase of your life? Are you nervous about it? Do you sometimes get overwhelmed by the changes coming your way? That’s ok. Write it down. Share it with a friend or family member. Get it out. It’s quite normal to feel all those things when facing changes in your life. Feel the feelings.
2. Create a Plan – No matter how big or small the change is that you are facing, having a plan can make the change more manageable. It is important to learn about what you are facing, create a plan for facing it, or develop a plan for something you want to change in your life. If you are going to college in a new town, review the campus map, get familiar with gas stations, restaurants, and ATM’s nearby. If you are not happy with your current life situation, write down steps you can take to change that. Seeing something on paper can make it feel more doable.
3. Communicate with Others – This is especially important if the changes in your life affect them. Hold a family meeting or discussion with the others involved in the changes taking place. Communication is often the key to a smooth transition. Seeking advice or direction from someone who has experienced what you are going through can ease your fear and uncertainty. Be sure to speak to folks who have your best interest at heart, and who have dealt successfully with change in the past. Do not be afraid to ask for help. People who care about you are happy to assist you, whether it’s moving furniture, writing thank you notes for graduation, helping you pick out clothes for your new job. Friends and family appreciate being part of your life in this way.
4. Practice Self-Care – It can be very easy to forget about this part when things in your life are changing, but self-care is so important! Take time to rest, reflect, and recharge. It’s amazing what a good night’s rest can do, so make sleep a priority. Eat well, exercise, participate in hobbies that you enjoy. Make sure you maintain involvement in activities that boost your mood and self-esteem. These activities will get you through those rough days.
5. Allow Time to Adjust – Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one, learning a new job, or training a puppy, expect the process to take time. Adjustment does not happen overnight. Be patient with yourself and others. Change is hard for them, too. Do not allow others to determine your timeline for you. Take as long as you need to adjust to new patterns, routines, or people in your life. Go slowly and ease yourself into the new without expecting too much too quickly. Change takes time.
If you or someone you love needs help with life changes, call 256-284-7080 to schedule an appointment.

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