[:en]How to Support Yourself in a Time of Change[:]

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Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes.
~Hugh Prather

What Is Change?

We live in a world of change. Cambridge Dictionary defines change as “something unusual or new that is better or more pleasant than what existed before.” Changes that we encounter in life can be positive or negative, but all of them have an element of uncertainty or novelty, which we need to adapt to. Even though we learn the most when we are out of the comfort zone, it is something we have to remind ourselves of. Ability to adapt to changing circumstances in an essential skill for success in business and personal life.

Various Types of Changes

If you are going through a transitional period in your life, it is very likely that many other people are facing similar challenging situations you are going through. Knowing that can  make us more sensitive and compassionate towards each other. There is a wide variety of stressful life changes. Richard Zwolinski, a licenced psychotherapist and the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On without Wasting Time or Money lists 20 stressors that trigger emotional problems:

  1. Death of a family member
  2. Terminal illness (one’s own or a family member)
  3. Physical incapacitation, chronic pain, or chronic illness
  4. Drug or alcohol abuse (self)
  5. Drug or alcohol abuse (family member, partner)
  6. Divorce
  7. Marriage
  8. Loss of job or job change
  9. Moving house
  10. Change of school (primarily for children or teens, but this can effect adults, too)
  11. Primary relationship problems (spouse or parent/child/sibling)
  12. Persistent Relationship Problems, non-primary (difficulties with other family members, conflict and loss of friends, difficulties with coworkers)
  13. Academic problems (poor grades, inability to retain information, problems with teachers, unable to meet deadlines)
  14. Occupational problems (lateness, absences, problems with boss or coworkers)
  15. Victim of abuse
  16. Victim of crime
  17. Criminal actions towards others
  18. Abusive actions towards self or others
  19. Extreme loneliness/lack of community membership or friendships
  20. Severe financial problems

In fact, stress factors have a cumulative effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. Therefore, it is even more difficult for us to process several life-changing situations in the same year. For example, I know someone who has experienced an unexpected divorce, a move, and a change of job at the same time. To say the least, it wasn’t the easiest year for my friend.

Calculate Your Overall Stress Score

The Holmes and Rahe Life Stress Inventory allows you to estimate cumulative effect of change you have experienced in the previous year. All you need to do is mark the events that have happened to you in the previous year, record their point values, add them up, and you have your overall stress score. A score of 300 or higher puts a person at an 80% risk of illness in the next 2 years. A score of 150-299 indicates a 50 % risk of illness in the next 2 years, and a score of less than 150 shows a relatively low amount of life change and low risk of illness.

Holmes-Rahe-Stress-Inventory

In many cases, simple relaxation methods can help to alleviate stress – meditation, breathing, yoga, art, walking, journaling, and other contemplative practices. I wrote a blog post about mindfulness-based techniques that help to relieve stress symptoms.

How to Support Yourself During Change

  1. Set Firm Boundaries

This is a very important aspect of self-care during a time of change. Maybe the most important. Make sure to listen to yourself and decide who you are going to confide in. Your trust is a precious gift that has to be given only to those who truly care about your well-being. By all means, do request support and advice of your biggest fans, but only if it feels comfortable for you. And give yourself permission to politely reject an unwanted advice.

Like this article suggests, you can simply say, “I’m glad that works for you. There are so many different ways of doing things.” You can find various ways of handling unsolicited advice there. I’m originally from Ukraine, a culture where everyone loves to give you a life lesson on every topic, whether they are an expert in it or not. In a time of change, it is helpful to have an option not to be bombarded with advice, especially if you have never asked for one. 

  1. Take Time for Yourself

It might take some time to process all your thoughts and emotions. And that’s okay. When you give yourself all the time you need, you will gradually re-gain clarity and strength to make the right next step. In his excellent book Living in the Heart: The Affinity Process and the Path of Unconditional Love and Acceptance, Paul Ferrini sums it up:

“Living in the heart means letting everything in. It means being with your experience, even when it is difficult or confusing. To be in the heart, we often have to postpone making decisions until we have become fully familiar with the whole contents of our consciousness.”

  1. Take It One Step at a Time

I learned this lesson from a very wise friend of mine. Experiment with this attitude and see how your emotional state changes. [clickToTweet tweet=”The only way to feel comfortable during a time of change is to take it one step a time.” quote=”The only way to feel comfortable during a time of change is to take it one step a time.”]

Every day we know what to do next, and that’s good enough. We don’t need to have a detailed long-term plan. There is freedom and spaciousness in allowing yourself to put one foot in front of the other and trust that tomorrow you will know what to do, just like you did today.

  1. Be Gentle with Yourself

Regardless of the circumstances, you are doing the best you can in every moment of your life. If you knew a better way, wouldn’t you choose it? So we can relax, knowing that there is no shame in making a mistake, there is only an expansion of awareness.  

  1. Ask for Help When You Need It

Last but not least, there are many people who have been in a similar situation and can share their wisdom and experience with you. You can find various support groups you can join in your area, when you are ready to move forward. You try meetup.com to begin with. Also, there are many documented benefits of working with a counselor, therapist, or coach in one-on-one setting. Under any circumstances, it is very helpful to have the support of like-minded people who have your best interests in mind.

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About the Author

life_purpose_coachingTanya Ince, Ph.D is an Intuitive Life Coach,  Ordained Ministerial Counselor,  Numerologist, TFT-Diagnostics facilitator, and trainer of Spiritual Technology methods. Tanya helps her clients to achieve spiritual coherence and create the life they want from the inside out. On her blog, Tanya shares her tips and insights about personal development, practical spirituality, astrology, and numerology. Connect with Tanya on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @TanyaCoaching.

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