“Eventually, everything goes away.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Change is a fact of life. Eventually, everything does change. We grow and age, seasons change, the sun rises and falls. Whether we decide to make changes ourselves, or whether they just happen to us, periods of transition can be incredibly stressful. But there are some practical things you can do during periods of change that could help with the change you’re facing.
There are two familiar things that people do when stressed and things around them us are changing – they race around and trying to get things done. Stress and anxiety can be motivators for any activity, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, too much activity can just end up making us more stressed and not really very effective.
The best way is to stop. Take a moment (or a few moments) doing nothing and just be still. Ypu can lie down on the floor or your bed, collapse in an armchair for a few minutes and stare off into space. It doesn’t need to be short or long, just do it in any time that you can spare.
Doing nothing gives your brain a chance to catch up, which gives you the initiative to start again. You’ll likely be a bit more on the ball and hopefully you’ll feel just a little calmer!
The practice of witnessing or watching yourself, even if you haven’t stopped or slowed down, can be an incredibly powerful anti-stress tool.
Watching can involve many things. Encourage yourself to listen for a moment in your environment – the sounds around you. Notice and examine your hands — are you holding anything in them? What does that object feel like in your hands? Is it cold or hot? Is it soft or hard? Again, listen to the sounds around you for a few moments.
You can continue this exercise for as long as you like. With practice, you might even find you’re able to ‘witness’ your thoughts in a similarly detached way.
Watching yourself, physically or mentally, can help you detach a little from your troubles. During periods of change, this can be helpful. Often, there are things we don’t notice about ourselves and it’s hard to get support if we’re not aware of what’s going on.
Similar to the witnessing exercise, breathing can be an excellent way of both calming yourself and noticing what’s going on for you.
We tend to breathe in a quicker and a shallower way when we’re stressed. In contrast, we breathe in a slower way when we’re relaxed.
The most interesting thing about the breathing is that you can actively change it. We can change it in a way that affects feelings.
Consciously and gradually slowing the breath down allows the working part of your nervous system to relax. This helps you feel more relaxed. This is a good remedy for any stress that comes with periods of change.
4. Be kind to yourself
This is something most of us forget to do! It’s especially important during periods of change or transition. The ‘Be kind to yourself’ approach means something different for everyone.
Some suggestions: let yourself sleep in, treat yourself to a food you really enjoy or go and get a massage. It doesn’t need to be anything big — small acts of kindness to one’s self go a long way.
5. Remember nothing is permanent
As Elizabeth Gilbert points out, “eventually, everything goes away”. When you’re trying to cope with a period of change, it is useful to remember that even change undergoes change. If you’re feeling unsettled, you won’t always be. If you feel like you aren’t coping, that will pass too.
This is an article by Joel Mayer. He writes about business coaching for companies like www.andrewmay.com.
Thank you, Joel, for your guest post to Carla’s Corner. Times of transitions can be quite stressful, even when we’re the one’s inviting the change! Thanks for sharing these five practical tip to help us keep things in perspective as we move through transitions in our life.