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  • Writer's pictureClaire Clarkin, LMHC

Tips for Coping with Change

Change happens to all of us. Whether it’s your boss asking you to return-to-office full-time or you are being laid off from your job, the accompanying emotions and responsibilities can be difficult to cope with. No matter the magnitude of the change, its impact on your life may be significant. Even “positive” changes can create an intense emotional experience and create stress simply due to the nature of change. 

Therefore, it is not uncommon for people to struggle with change. Some common issues related to change include anxiety, depression, self-isolation, issues with attention and focus, or difficulties maintaining healthy relationships.

Change may cause a disruption in your life that is emotionally challenging, but does not lead to prolonged negative impact on your life. Coping with change is possible!

If you find yourself struggling to cope with change in your life, the following tips can help assimilate you to your new reality. 

Practice Acceptance:

Accepting change is arguably the most important and possibly the most difficult part of coping with it. Acceptance is not a one-time thing and instead it requires consistent practice. This repeated commitment to accepting your circumstances allows that acceptance to be felt in your mind, your heart and your body.

Now, acceptance does not mean that you approve of what you are experiencing or even that you will not try to change anything in the future. Instead it is a way of releasing painful emotions that may be tied to change, which prohibits you from living a meaningful life despite the changes.

The founder of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Marsha Linenhan, stated, “Radical acceptance doesn’t mean that you don’t try to change anything”. In fact, acceptance is necessary in order to make productive changes of your own!

Cultivate a Mindset of Willingness: 

When we can accept our circumstances and the burden of holding negative emotions about them, we can begin to implement strategies in our life that improve its quality in lieu of our change.

Willingness is a mindset characterized by excitement to engage in a task needed to reach a goal. While trying new things may be intimidating, the willingness with which we approach them rivals the importance of the skill we have, the support we have or the conditions we have to do them in. These are factors that you cannot control. What you do have agency over is your mindset and one of willingness can improve the chances of being successful in your endeavors.

It’s not uncommon to hear that clients have the assumption that “everything has changed” after a major life event. Generalization is a common thinking error, and can create blind spots in our ability to create a sense of normalcy or improve quality of life post-change. 

To combat this generalization try the following activity:

  1. Journal about what your life would look like at this point in time if the change never occurred. Specifically, think about what you would be doing at work, for fun, with friends or even for travel. 

  2. Do the same journaling prompt for your life at present.

  3. Reflect on the following questions:

  4. How do these lists differ? 

  5. How are they the same? 

  6. Do some of these things still feel important after the change?

  7. If so, is there a way you can still incorporate them into your life?

Journaling reflections like this enhance your ability to think objectively during a time where emotional thinking may lead to thinking errors. Reviewing this with a friend or therapist can be helpful too!

Commitment to Yourself:

When life gets busy it’s not uncommon for people to become lax about their boundaries, goals and self-care. This laxity usually goes unnoticed until being forced into awareness by something like a change in schedule, relationships, work or finances.The period of time immediately following a change can be a useful time to reaffirm your commitment to yourself and your well-being. 

Completing a values inventory can be a useful way to reacquaint yourself with what is important to you and your life so that you can begin to engage in activities that support those values. 

Give yourself permission to take care of yourself and reinvest time into a self-care practice that has fallen to the wayside. 

Be intentional about your sleep habits. Although some changes may prohibit you from this, doing what you can to improve your sleep can improve your tolerance for stress and decrease the severity of negative emotional responses. If you are looking for tips on getting a good night of sleep, see this article for suggestions.

Coping with Change is Possible:

For some, the stress from a significant life change creates an emotional response that is not lessened with time and interferes with their life. This is known as an Adjustment Disorder and is a condition which therapy can help treat. Not all difficulties with change develop into an Adjustment Disorder with proper care and intervention. 

A trusted counselor can help guide you through this challenging time by building skills, resiliency and lasting methods for overcoming the negative impact of change. 

If you’re ready to address your struggle with change or ready to take on your next life transition,  I invite you to contact me for a complimentary consultation at 954-391-5305 so we can discuss how I can help. 

I provide counseling for adults in our beautiful Fort Lauderdale office  as well as online therapy  via our secure telehealth platform.

For more information about my approach or my services, click here.


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