7 tips for dealing with change

Change can feel stressful or scary to deal with. It might feel like as soon as you get used to one thing, things change again. If you’re feeling uneasy about a life change (big or small), here are some things you can do to make coping a bit easier.

This can help if:

  • you’re finding it hard to cope with change

  • you resist change

  • you’re feeling out of control and overwhelmed.

Girl sitting on park bench

1. Think things through and ask, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

We're often scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown. And a good way to deal with the unknown is to think things through carefully. Imagine all of the different possible outcomes, and then decide what would be your best- and worst-case scenarios. Write them down, if it helps. Another great strategy is to think about the last time you were faced with a big change and got through it okay. Remember how scary it was starting high school or learning to drive? Sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems at first, and may just take a little time to get used to.

2. Ask yourself how much you can control

When a big change occurs, it’s important to figure out how much control over the situation you really have. Understanding your role and how much you can change can help you put things in perspective. For example, if you've just moved out of home, there are many small things you can do to make the process easier. Make a to-do list and check each item off when you complete it.

3. Accept and reframe

If the unwanted change is beyond your control, try taking a reflective approach. Accepting that there are things beyond your control, and choosing to be comfortable with that fact, is likely to bring greater peace of mind than waging an unwinnable war. View change as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a setback, even if you have to fake it til you make it!

4. Celebrate the positives

Even though it can be a tough ask, focusing on the positives can really help you manage change. While the positive aspects of a situation might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be. For example, if you’ve moved recently, you might be away from your friends, but it's also a great way to learn how to be more independent. Try to make the best of the situation. You can still call and write to those friends, and plan to visit them!

5. Take action

If the unwanted change is within your control, take an active approach to dealing with it. Try some problem-solving techniques, or set some goals to proactively address any challenges. Focusing on the problem at hand, developing a plan of action, and asking for advice are useful active strategies.

6. Manage your stress

Improving your ability to handle stress will go a long way to helping you deal with change. Try practising mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in other relaxation techniques. See more tips on how to deal with stress here.

7. Seek support

It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed if the change you’re facing is really big, or there’s too much change happening all at once. This is when it might be best to seek support. Consider asking friends or family for help or emotional support. Even a phone/video call or chatting online can help you feel connected to your loved ones.

Or you can look at some options for getting professional help. Whether you’re coping with your favourite show ending or dealing with something more serious, there are always others in similar situations and professionals available to help.

Telephone and online support is a great way to access help for free. Some of these include:

  • Lifeline (13 11 14) has 24/7 phone and online support.

  • Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) has 24/7 phone and online support for young people aged 5 to 25.

  • ReachOut PeerChat offers free, text-based sessions with a peer worker. A peer worker has experience of tough times has a young person and can use this experience to support you.

  • eheadspace has free online and phone support for young people aged 12 to 25.

  • Online forums, like the ReachOut Online Community, are a great way to anonymously connect with others.

  • If you can't get a face-to-face appointment, you could ask your health professional if you can have a session over FaceTime/Skype/Zoom.

What can I do now?

  • Head to the ReachOut Online Community and join the discussion about turning negatives to positives.

  • Want to chat with a peer worker who can listen to you and support you? Book a free, text-based session with ReachOut PeerChat.

  • Check out the app Smiling Mind for a guided mindfulness meditation.