I was a part of a discussion group this month that tackled the topic of change. How did we handle it? Did we differ in our approach depending on whether it was planned change or unexpected change? Did it also vary depending on whether we chose the change or whether it happened to us without our input? It was a very thought-provoking discussion, and so I turn and pose it to you this month. How do you handle change?
My family and I decided to relocate to Berkeley, California from St. Petersburg, Florida. My husband is about to become a full-time graduate student. We know no one in the city (as was the case when we relocated to St. Petersburg from Cincinnati, Ohio last year). The West Coast of the United States is very different from the Midwest and the South. You might say we’re about to go through some major changes!
Moving is a top life stressor, as many of us know. So is starting school or a new job. Many people have asked me how I’m coping. I’d like to think I’m doing pretty well. Of course I’ve had those moments of wanting to scream. I’ve lost lots of sleep staying up late and packing, or visiting one last time with friends we were leaving behind. We had committed to volunteering full-time for our church’s summer day camp the very week before we were supposed to load up the moving truck, and that was very fun but also very exhausting. We were trying to eat all of our food so we didn’t have to throw it out, so at some point we were not eating the most balanced meals. And of course then there were the bittersweet emotions involved that affected our attitudes – – happiness and excitement about going somewhere we want to go, but sadness and grief for leaving behind people and places we’ve become accustomed to and fond of.
Life brings ups and downs to all of us. It’s handy, not to mention beneficial to our health, if we’re aware of what we need to try to keep ourselves going in the midst of craziness. When I sensed that my body was starting to feel the effects of everything that was going on, I adjusted my plans where I could so I could rest and take a break. When I saw my daughter heading down the same path, I took special care to make sure she was getting what she needed to head off any major health effects. Once we know how to take care of ourselves and those we love, we can feel more confident about our ability to deal with change in a healthy way. My morning routine, for example, was instrumental in this. Even with everything going on, I still managed to take my daily walk and do my daily morning meditation on *most* (not all – – I’m human too!) days. I also forced myself to stop what I was doing when it got too late, even if it meant stopping a project right in the middle.
If you had to create your “Change Self-Care Plan” right now, what would it entail? Nightly bubble baths no matter what? A dance break during lunch with your office door closed? These little things can go a long way towards maintaining both your physical and mental health. Why not give it some thought? Even if you don’t anticipate changes coming your way at the moment, there’s nothing wrong with being ready for them. Because they will come – – you can count on that. Might as well be prepared.