Out on a Limb: How to embrace change

Embrance change with help from a health coach, life coach, and stress coach in Ithaca NY, the Finger Lakes Region, Central and Upstate NY, and and the north east.

I'm in the midst of several colossal, momentous life changes right now. No, really - I'm experiencing upheaval in just about every aspect of my life, somehow all converging at the same time, some of it by choice, most of it not. It is in fact so many changes that it must be a sign from the universe. (More on that later). Here's how I'm responding to (what I'm trying to see as) the opportunity to practice what I preach - managing stress and taking care of myself as I navigate these changes in life - to keep going, keep prioritizing my self-care, and not stay in a puddle under the covers all day long. So when you feel the change overwhelm, and you hear the call to Netflix binge (hello Gilmore Girls)/pizza & ice cream binge/wine binge/shopping binge, or whatever your choice of distraction,  my hope is you can hear it, and choose something else. And if you're already there, hey, it's never too late to pick yourself up off the floor and choose again. That might just be the lesson you're meant to learn.

1) Acknowledge that change is hard. Even when it's change you asked for (say, taking a voluntary leave from your job of 10 years to build your business), even when it's good change, change is hard, and it doesn't mean it's a mistake.  And we certainly don't (consciously) ask for all the change in our lives, which can make it infinitely harder.  Just by recognizing this, you are validating your feelings and experience and it makes it a little easier to deal.

2) Ask for help. When you're having a hard time, it really feels like crap to walk about pretending everything's ok. This doesn't mean you have to broadcast it to everyone you encounter, or post it all over facebook (actually, please don't do that), but we all have those people we can count on.  Tell them you're having a hard time and that you need their support. Even if you don't need help in a tangible form, being honest that you're struggling and knowing that there are people there that care about you and what you're going through can feel like the life raft you need to keep your head above water.

3) Feel all the feelings.  It's so important not to bury or ignore your feelings.  When we do this, you know they don't really go away and have a nasty habit of making themselves known in not-so healthy ways. Journaling is a great tool to work through your feelings.  Without putting too much thought into it, just write and let it flow.  This can help you process and release some funky, not-so-pleasant feelings, and can help you gain clarity into what and why you're feeling. Really, it's a great outlet.  It can feel a little awkward at first to just write, but just start, and try not to judge.

4) Meditate.  I know, the thought of trying to quiet your mind when the winds of change are blowing might seem next to impossible, but it really does help. Meditation is also another good way to process feelings, it activates your parasympathetic nervous system (that's the "rest, digest, repair" mode that we want our bodies to be in) which can stop a freak-out mode, and it can bring clarity and insight. When my mind is spinning with overwhelm, when I can't find my focus or figure out where to start, or when I feel like I just need to tap into my inner guidance and find some answers, a short 10 -15 minutes of meditation always helps. Bonus: I find the combo of meditation immediately followed by a few minutes of journaling to be super powerful. 

4) Believe there is a greater plan.  Whether you call it God, the Universe, Allah, or your inner guide or spirit, believing that there is something greater and a reason for what's happening is a huge help and a huge relief. Believing this all part of a bigger plan and that whatever is happening is what is meant to be, lets you surrender the need to control. Having faith doesn't mean giving up and being passive. Rather, it means in the midst of all the craziness, if you work hard and stay open to new possibilities, there just may be opportunity in the hardship and the unknown. Being open, believing and looking for what Gabby Bernstein calls the miracle - which could be as simple as a shift in your mindset or perception - takes a huge weight off your shoulders. Sometimes this is easy to do, sometimes it's really f'ing hard, and sometimes you'll yo-yo back and forth between the two, and that's ok.

5) Do something! "Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy." Oh this is SO true. What exactly is it that you're freaking out about? What can you proactively do now? Go do it. You will feel better immediately.

6) Move your body.  Specifics don't really matter so long as it works for you. My personal favorites are yoga (which is also really good for activating your relaxation response) and going for hikes or walks outside. A nice relaxing walk can do you wonders. Some people thrive off the endorphin high from a super intense spin class or boot camp, but especially during high-stress times, intense exercise can be too depleting so pay attention to your body. It's just important to move, daily if you can. 

7) Relax. I love hot epsom's salt baths. They're soothing, detoxifying, and the magnesium in the epsom's salts is called the relaxation mineral! Maybe you love knitting, reading, walking your dog, cooking, or something else. Make time to do whatever it is that helps you find your center and unwind.

8) Get out in nature. Seriously. It's therapy. It even literally changes your brain. (And if you're in nature moving or meditating, then you get a two-for-one.)

And remember friend, I've got your back, and I know you've got mine. Share in the comments if you find any of these helpful, or if you have some favorite tips of your own.