Regardless of how routine or predictable, we’d like our lives to be, changes good and bad, large and small, are bound to occur, disrupting our best-laid plans; even in the context of the most mundane day, change is happening all around us even if we fail to notice it.
But then, there are some instances of change that make us acutely aware of how little control we have over our plans or surroundings. These changes can bring an unexpected pregnancy, a breakup with a long-term partner, the finality of death, an unavoidable naming or renaming of one’s own core identity, throwing our carefully arranged lives into disarray. Even change that we might initially understand to be good — a big promotion, a new puppy — can require us to grace our way through a transitional period.
Ultimately, the only aspect of our change-ridden existence that we have any control over whatsoever is how we interact with and react to change. Recognizing that we have at least this ordinary superpower at our disposal can completely shift how change affects us — and it’s an asset that we can absolutely hone! Building up and perfecting your patterns of resilience in periods of stasis can be an instrumental way for you to handle any change coming at you.
Here are three approaches to change that you can adapt and refine, starting today, that can help you wrangle change like a total boss.
Grounding yourself through meditation or daily ritual is a way to craft a resilient version of you so that you’re a constant in a sea of change. Think of it as calibrating an inner compass or fashioning a temple to yourself that exists no matter where you are physically located, no matter what you’re waking up to accomplish or face every morning. What this looks like is totally subjective to your needs and likes, but it’s best to keep this practice low-maintenance and portable so that you can literally take it with you wherever you are.
Maybe it’s a breathwork app and a crystal that you keep in your wallet that you can turn to as soon as you get out of bed, any day, anywhere, any time. The researchers of a 2015 study confirmed that meditation breeds resilience, concluding, “Mindful people … can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down. Pausing and observing the mind may (help us) resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback.”
Even taking up a chill, nightly journaling habit that you complete regardless of how tired you are, can help you process and handle change and keep you rooted instability. Whatever your grounding practice, creating a structure that has personal resonance can help direct the changes that will inevitably come at you, the way that creating a channel can help direct a sudden deluge of water.
Reframe What Change Means
Sometimes, shifting your perspective can help you better tackle change by allowing you to plot out the path forward instead of clinging to the unchangeable past.
Let’s say you get laid off from your job, a change that would leave most of us in a compromising position, perhaps setting the stage for a very difficult period of your life. After acknowledging the very real challenges that getting laid off presents — the financial insecurity, the rejection that has left you reeling, the uncertainty of the near future — you can choose to move forward in love rather than fear as a way to conquer change.
To be clear, approaching financial insecurity with love doesn’t mean you “love” the fact that you now have no job or source of income, but maybe that you love yourself enough to ask friends or family members for short-term help. Rejection can make you question whether you’re unworthy of respect and value, but choosing love can help you acknowledge the skills that you have that are worth leveraging into your next career. Instead of walking into a future that you envision as blank and aimless, envision one that feels open and free. Even if you don’t fully feel comfortable embracing a positive or productive outlook right now — you might not even believe it at all — this will seriously help shimmy you out of any feelings of hopelessness, denial, or injustice that you might be experiencing during the transition.
While reformulating your outlook can be way easier said than done, it’s worth practicing in the context of minor changes so that you’re primed to carry this pattern of belief out when things really go down. Try reframing what it means when your evening plans suddenly get canceled or rolling with months-long road work that will disrupt your familiar morning commute.
Take Care of Your Body
Periods of change are usually accompanied by periods of stress, which can lead you to experience changes in appetite that can exacerbate your response to this stress; whether you’ve lost your appetite or have begun to eat your feelings, you’re setting yourself for imbalance and spikes in energy levels.
The next time you experience stressful change, consider integrating nourishing foods and ingredients that happen to have stabilizing effects on your body and mind. Eating foods high in vitamin C and dietary fiber can help bolster your immune system — the orange is the perfect example of a food that has both of these nutrients. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like nuts and wild salmon, have anti-inflammatory effects that can help to tamp down stress response at the cellular level. Chamomile and mint teas can chill you out, while magnesium supplements and CBD tinctures can get your body to wind down for a solid night of sleep.
Maintaining moderate levels of exercise will also be absolutely crucial in keeping your body and mind centered. The Anxiety and Depression Society of America cited a study that found that even taking a 10-minute walk was enough to bring people relief from anxiety and depression for at least a few hours following the walk, the same way that a pill might temporarily relieve a headache.