5 Ways to Handle Stressful Changes

Aug 29, 2012
6 Min Read

Five years ago you may have laughed if someone told you that you would not only take on twice your current workload, but be happy about it – and be willing to take a pay cut. Or, you may have thought someone was pulling your leg to tell you that your Ivy League education would net you a 20-hour-a-week temp job with no benefits and have you living at home with your parents.

The world we envisioned before the Great Recession may be quite different than the existence we have today. All of us, in some form or another, have undergone great changes in our lives – sometimes because there was no other choice.

But if there is one bright side to our upheaval it is that we’ve learned to handle change. Well, some of us have. Others are still under a great deal of stress as their brains try to assimilate this new reality of a rocky economy and uncertain job market.

If you’re still having sleepless nights, fighting more with your significant other or just unwilling to get out of bed every day, it would be that you need find ways to embrace the change in your life. Here are some suggestions to get you on the road to less stress and a new future:

1. Start with “maybe.” Instead of categorizing the boss as a horse’s behind because he gave you a difficult project, look at it as, “Maybe the boss gave me this job because he knows he can trust me to do a good job.” Or, maybe the new accounting system will save you time in the long run, even though it means more training in the beginning.

2. Put it in black and white. Instead of tossing and turning at night as you fret about a problem at work, write it down. List as many solutions to the problem as you can, and revisit the list to add more solutions when they come to you.

3. Change the furniture. Just because a sofa has been in the same corner of your living room for a decade doesn’t mean it can’t find a new spot. Think how different the whole room would look simply by changing the sofa to the opposite corner. Look at your work situation in the same way. Is there one task you’ve done forever that could be shifted to another person and free you up to do something different or better? Or, could you ask a colleague at work out to lunch instead of sitting in a depressing break room and eating your yogurt? Even small steps can make you feel empowered in the change process.

4. Think of “what if.” Sometimes the initial reaction to any change is anger. We’re mad we didn’t get the promotion. We’re peeved that our work schedule has been changed. We’re ticked that the job recruiter didn’t call us back. Instead of getting frustrated, think of how those events may lead to something better down the road. What if that promotion loss means less pressure so you can now do volunteer work you love? What if the new schedule allows you more time with your family? What if that job recruiter calls you back in two weeks with another offer?

5. Draw your line in the sand. If a change in your life is going to jeopardize your health or welfare, then you know it’s not right for you. If change means you won’t get necessary sleep or mean you’ll never get to spend time with your children, for example, then you know that’s a change you don’t have to accept.

No one ever said change was easy, but it’s always been a part of your life. When you were a kid, you probably easily embraced new things – it’s what helped you to learn to ride a bike or make new friends. Don’t think that just because you’re much older now that you’re not capable of making changes and growing.

How have you handled change in your life?

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