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4 ways of coping with change and building resilience

In life we experience changes in work, relationships, changes to our physical and mental health; quite literally our world in constantly evolving. Sometimes we are thrown into change, change that we don't expect and have never experienced before - such as the Covid-19 Pandemic. Other times we experience change that we can prepare for, we know it's coming and have an idea of how it might impact us.

The reason many people say they aren't "good at coping with change" is because it's the fear of the unknown and a sense of being out of control. However, by practicing different ways of thinking and being, we can boost our ability to deal with change and help ourselves to build resilience so that we are better able to adapt to new places and unexpected events. In this blog I aim to explore four healthy ways you can learn to feel more confident in the face of change.

1. Practice being present

Sometimes thinking back to the past can help us to remember how far we've come and notice our strengths. However, when you're feeling overwhelmed by the future or worried about what's to come, you forget to be in the present and observe what's going on around you right now. To bring yourself back to the present, you need to tune into your body. Here's a little exercise you can do to ground yourself using the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique:

5,4,3,2,1 anxiety coping strategy

This technique helps you to focus on the here-and-now. By working through the steps one at a time, it distracts your mind from the unhelpful thoughts that may be going on.

2. Self-care, self-care, self-care

Often life’s transitions involve losses such as death, a big move, the loss of a job, the end of a relationship or loss of independence. Even positive transitions, such as a graduation or a promotion, can make us feel a little sad. Whatever it is, it's important that we check-in with ourselves and acknowledge those feelings of grief, instead of pushing them away. By acknowledging our feelings, we are in a better position to recognise when we need to self-care. Try to make this time for yourself to engage in something you want to do, whether it's a relaxing bath, reading a book or doing some yoga, this little bit of time to yourself will help to nourish your mind. See the image below for more ideas of how we can show ourselves a bit of love:

Self-love tips for adults

3. Recognise your thought patterns

In times of change, it can be easy for our minds to slip into unhelpful thought patterns which can leave us feeling trapped. We're often told to 'think positively', however that can feel impossible sometimes. The truth is, our thoughts aren't always positive and that's the way they are for everyone. To help us navigate the world and make sound decisions, we need a variety of thoughts, not just positive. So instead of trying to manipulate our thoughts, it's more helpful to gain an awareness of the tricks our thoughts can play and how we can better manage those.

To give an example, let's look at black and white thinking - "my friends have partners so they are loveable, I'm single so therefore I'm not loveable". If you've had thoughts like these, you are certainly not alone. In life we are constantly surrounded by comparison, such as the concept of being tall or short, old or young, so it's no wonder that our minds can fall into these patterns sometimes. Next time your mind tries to tell you a story that seems to only present two options, slow down and ask yourself if you might be missing something - what would the rational version of you say?

4. Find your priorities

Although some of us are filled with fear at the thought of change, it can allow us to consider where our priorities lie. How do you really want to spend your time? What’s really important to you? With a clear sense of your goals and values, you will find your mind and body can be much more resilient when it comes to the strains of change.

Above all, prioritising your health in life’s transitions means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it. Humans are social creatures by nature, we weren’t built to withstand every event in life without the support of others. Speak to friends and family and even a counsellor if you need that extra support. You can’t avoid change, but you can live a life of resilience and admire just how much you've learnt through every uncomfortable situation you've been in.

If you've found this blog helpful, take a look here to view blogs on other mental health topics. Through my website you can subscribe to my email list to access new content and exclusive offers or click to follow my Instagram page for more.

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