3 Ways to Tackle a Big Change
It’s been a while since I’ve written about something other than food – which I’m totally fine with, of course, since food is my everything. Coming off of the heels of my big move from California to Oklahoma, I thought it would be a good time to talk about strategies to handle change.
I’ve always thought of myself as someone who did a decent job at embracing change. Being a freelancer, I manage constant variation in my professional life. However, it wasn’t until I made this out-of-state move that I realized the other parts of my life – friends, relationships, exercise, daily routine, etc – had actually been quite consistent for the past 5-6 years. I was a bit more rooted in my ways than expected.
When I’m out of my routine, I am out of my comfort zone and not particularly thrilled about it. To be happy, I really need to be eating clean, exercising regularly, and around people I love. When those elements get thrown out of balance (work trip, a move, etc), I easily get anxious or stressed.
Change can be positive (getting married, a new job, buying a house) or negative (ending a relationship, losing a loved one) – but regardless, it can be a bit unsettling to even the most stoic of people.
From my most recent experience, here’s my top 3 tips on how to tackle change – and not lose your mind in the process.
- Remember Other Big Changes in Your Life. Sit down and make a list of other big changes you’ve experienced in the past – positive or negative, doesn’t matter. New job, losing a job, moving to college, meeting a significant other, breaking up with a significant other, buying a car, having your finances change, whatever. Making this list is a great refresher that change is only temporary. No matter what, the earth keeps spinning, we adapt, and we stabilize. For example, during my move, I reflected a lot on when I made the choice a few years ago to be a freelance professional – it was risky and uncomfortable, but I eventually stabilized and now am perfectly content with it. Keep the list handy, and when you are starting to feel nervous, pull it out and remind yourself that the unsettling feelings aren’t forever.
- Find Small Ways to Stay Consistent. As I mentioned above, I think the worst part about a big change is that it can really take you out of your normal routine. Take a few minutes to identify what grounds you most when things get stressful. For example, it could be exercise, walking your dog, 15 minutes of prayer/meditation, watching a favorite TV show, etc. Choose 1-2 things that you know keep you happy, and make sure to stay consistent with those small things at all costs throughout your change. Just because a big change is occurring, doesn’t mean EVERYTHING in your life needs to change. For me, it’s exercise. I knew that I was going to be away from a CrossFit gym for about 3-4 weeks in the process of moving, traveling, unpacking, etc. I packed a little gym bag for my long trip (jump rope, resistance bands, etc), and mixed in hotel room workouts, some runs, dropped into some spin classes, and overall just tried to stay rooted in that even though my days were crazy, I was going to spend 30 minutes or so being active. Knowing that this part of my life wasn’t going to change relieved a lot of anxiety and stress for me.
- Schedule Time with “That Person”. Whether it’s your mom, best friend, mentor, pastor, therapist – when you have a big change coming, make sure to actually schedule a time to talk with a person that you trust and can be unfiltered with ahead of time. Yes, that means SCHEDULE, as in commit to a date/time ahead of time. It can be as simple as sending that person a text that says, “Hey, next week [fill in the blank – I’m moving, I have a huge work project due, my husband is having surgery, I am having a baby] and I just know I’m going to need a few minutes to talk. Can we plan on chatting/meeting up at 4:30PM next Tuesday?” If you’re away from that person, send an Outlook invitation for a FaceTime wine/coffee date. However you want to do it, knowing that you have a time carved out to discuss your big change will help relieve some of that pressure that you have to do it all yourself.
I hope these simple things help stabilize you in whatever you might be getting ready to tackle – positive or negative!