A guide to dealing with constant change
Change is something that everyone has to deal with, whether it’s something small in your routine, like having to take a new route to school because of roadworks, or something major that shakes up our whole lives, like a global pandemic. While it's normal to feel frustrated and unsettled by uncertainty, there are ways you can equip yourself to deal with life’s changes.
Much of the anxiety we feel when faced with big life changes comes from the reality that many decisions that affect us can be out of our hands. Feeling like we're not in control of our own path is pretty unsettling, but figuring out precisely what you can and can't do will help you to maintain a sense of stability and reduce any fear or anxiety.
You can’t prevent a storm from happening, but you can pack an umbrella. Preparation is the key to figuring out what you can and can’t control. Try making a list of what’s worrying you (i.e. your fears). You can then start to figure out ways to address these problems (i.e. your fixes). For example:
Fear: Returning to team sport after a few years off will be tough. I won’t be any good anymore and people will judge me.
Fix: Start working on your skills at home, so that when training starts you feel better prepared. Let your team know you’re a bit nervous about playing again after time off and could use some tips on how to rebuild your skills.
Fear: My friends and I lost out on the house we really wanted to rent, and we don’t know why. Now I’ll never be able to move out of home.
Fix: Ask the agent why you and your friends weren’t selected for that house and take the feedback on board. Chat with your friends about what you will and won’t compromise on and look for new houses with this in mind. Create a spreadsheet with houses you’re keen to apply for and edit your applications to show why you’d be a good fit.
By coming up with fixes for any fears you have, you’ll take back your decision-making power.
Chances are your self-control has already been well tested throughout your life. If you’ve ever studied remotely or worked from home, you’ll have faced many tempting distractions – PS5, anyone? By strengthening your self-control, you'll be more comfortable if (and when) things around you change.
Set yourself mini-tasks each week to strengthen your self-control. Maybe all the time you’re spending online is leaving you feeling flat and empty, but you're finding it hard to look away. Start small by committing to switch off your phone during lunch. Then, day by day, slowly increase the amount of time you spend offline.
The key to building self-control is to use small victories to work up to bigger wins. Start with a manageable goal and build on that, day by day, week by week.
It’s easy to see the negatives when things change, but it can help to try and see the positives, too. Searching for the positives in a situation may help you to feel more grateful for what you do have, which is a great mindfulness tool and can help relieve your stress.
Practise identifying the things you’re grateful for in life – even if it’s as simple as being able to go for a walk with a friend or watch a movie with your housemates.
Speaking of friends, surround yourself with positive pals. If certain friends are continually banging on about how crazy everything is, then maybe mute them for a while and focus on people who look for the silver lining. Laughing is also a sure-fire way to feel more positive when the going gets tough. Start a group chat that’s dedicated to swapping the best memes you saw that day, or finally open your TikTok messages from that one friend who sends you so many videos it’s like they’ve made you another FYP.
Practising positive self-talk can also be a big help. Each week, write down one thing you like about yourself. At the end of every month, you'll then have a little list that proves you're a legend. Ultimately, the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you'll be to find the good in any situation you face.
Hands up if you've had a rough day and gone straight down the rabbit hole? Often our default response to change is negative thinking. This is because there's safety in the familiar, and change feels like a threat to our comfortable setup. But learning to adjust your thought patterns will do you a world of good during uncertain times.
Having negative thoughts is normal, but sometimes the best way to deal with them is to put a limit on them. If you notice you're on a slippery slope with worries, anxieties or fears, allow yourself only a certain amount of time each day to dwell on those thoughts.
The ReachOut WorryTime app lets you decide on a time, place and length of time to deal with your worries each day. This means you can do it in one sitting, rather than carrying your worries around with you 24/7.
It's easy to find yourself gazing into the crystal ball, worrying about what the future might hold, but if you invest too much time in thinking about what hasn't happened yet, you might just miss out on the moments that are right in front of you.
Try meditation or mindfulness. Smiling Mind is an Australian-made mindfulness app designed for users of all ages. It works off the idea of dedicating just ten minutes a day to focusing on the here and now.
If mindfulness isn’t your vibe, why not try to master the art of distraction, whether it's by going for a run, hitting the gym, jumping on the baking bandwagon and whipping up a cake, or meeting up with friends for a board games night.
Concentrating on these kinds of tasks will help to block out the noise. It's hard to worry about constant change when your brain is focused on something in front of you!