All of us experience big changes at some points in our lives, like going to university, moving away from family and friends, or getting a new job. Sometimes, change can be daunting, and it can be hard to adjust once it’s happened. Here are some tips to help you face change in your life.
Before a big change
Preparing for change can be difficult, especially when you are going through something that you have no control over. It can make you feel nervous, excited, uncomfortable - or pretty much all of these feelings at once! If you are about to experience a big life change, there are some ways that you can prepare and feel a little bit more comfortable with it.
Be proactive and make plans
People sometimes feel afraid of change because it can leave them feeling helpless. It might seem easier to just avoid thinking about it, but actually a great way to fight this feeling is by making plans when you can. For example, if you know that you are going to be moving up a year at school and need to pick your subjects, start your research early so that you are totally prepared once the time comes.
Consider what might go wrong
An important part of making plans is considering what to do if things don’t work out. Try to think of the challenges you might have to face, and figure out how you would deal with them. This makes you less worried about problems happening, and makes it much easier to deal with any issues if they do come up. For example, if you are applying to work at your dream company but you know that it’s very competitive, research other companies you would like to work out beforehand and draft applications for them as well.
Communicate with your loved ones
Change affects the people we love too. Some changes might require a lot of your time and effort, and if you let your friends and family know in advance that you’ll be out of contact for a bit, it will make things easier for both you and them. Other changes can affect your wellbeing or your emotions, and if you feel comfortable doing so, it can be helpful to share what’s going on with the people you are close to, or simply let them know that you are going through something. They’ll be able to give the space needed to your emotions, help with your preparations, and give you comfort and support.
After a big change
It can take a while to come to terms with a big change. Accepting what has happened allows you to adapt to your new life, to own the change and be the agent of it, rather than a bystander who gets swept up by it. Here are some strategies to help you do this:
Acknowledge your feelings
One of the most important things you can do is to really think about and process your feelings about the change. It can actually be hard to understand how we feel about a change, especially because it might be a mix of emotions, both positive and negative. One of the ways you can work through your emotions is to write them down - try journaling for example, which is when you write down your feelings every day in a notebook. Another thing you can do is talk about what’s happened with someone. Sometimes, talking it out really helps to get clarity on our feelings, and you get the benefit of another point of view.
Change your mindset
Change can turn your life upside down, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Sometimes it can be hard to see the bright side of a big change - all you can think about is how everything will be different. Try to focus on the positives, like the opportunities that the change will bring. For example, if you are anxious about leaving your friends to go to university, you can focus instead on how excited you are about your course. It won’t make the negative things go away, but it can make them feel less important.
Self care involves spending time alone doing things you genuinely enjoy. Exercising is a great example: it helps to reduce stress, physical and mental health, and it can also really help to process your emotions. A run or a yoga session, for example, can clear your head, let out pent-up emotions, or help you think through things. We’ve got a great guide you can read here on self-care.
Friends and family are always a good place to start, and they can provide huge support and help, if you are comfortable telling them what you are going through. In some cases however, you’d rather not tell them what’s going on, or you feel the need to talk to people who are experiencing the same thing as you are. There are lots of other places for you to find support.
You can find support groups for pretty much anything you can think of. In many cases, you’ll have the choice of getting support online, or in person, and to do it confidentially, if you need that.
You can also talk to your doctor, teachers or any trusted adult at your school. Just having someone you trust listen to your concerns can really help you organise your thoughts, and if you need more guidance, they’re qualified to help you find the support you need.
Good stuff from elsewhere
UK mental health support services
US Mental health support services