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"My staff (at Sioux Trail Elementary) have been sharing about Headway's training sessions. Teachers come back from the trainings excited to try new strategies and they have new understanding regarding mental health issues. This is making a difference in their classrooms and helping them relate to students when they are struggling."

-Shannon McParland, Principal, Sioux Trail Elementary

Headway Minute

April 10, 2012

The Only Thing Constant in Life is Change

All of us appreciate a certain amount of change in our lives. At the same time, many of us try hard to avoid it. Why? Because change tends to have a "cluster effect" meaning one change is often followed by several more. And frankly, change is stressful; frequently impacting many areas of our life.

We all know that our lives can be dramatically altered as the result of a big change. However, even small changes can have a big impact; things like losing or gaining weight, starting a new job, altering a routine, or not seeing a close friend for a long time.

Change is a normal and essential part of life, yet, ironically, when we're in the middle of it, it feels anything but normal. "Logic" tells us that if change is related to a positive event -- such as a new job, a pregnancy, moving to a desired location -- that the impact won't be as significant as a change related to a negative event. In reality, however, whether the change is positive or negative, the resulting stress can be overwhelming and very disruptive in many areas of our life. In fact, positive change sometimes is more difficult to cope with because we are not expecting any negative fallout, forgetting that even good change can be stressful.

Tips for Coping with (Positive and Negative) Change:

  • Expect/recognize that you have emotions related to the change
    Fear, anxiety, frustration, despair, anger, excitement, a sense of loss, are all emotions associated with change. Change, no matter how good it is, means loss. When something in your life changes you lose what was. So expect it.
  • Go with the flowA single change, such as where you work or what you do triggers changes in many other areas of your life. How to cope? Focus on being flexible. Being rigid in the face of change can increase the pain and difficulty of change. Think of yourself as a boat in a storm. Traveling with the waves makes for a much smoother ride.
  • Get support
    Don't go it alone. As difficult as it feels, reaching out to others is an important part of coping. While you may tell yourself it is easier to manage things alone, coping is much easier when you find the courage to reach out for support.
  • Recognize your choicesWhen change is thrust upon you, it may feel like you don't have any choices. However, there are many choices which are under your control. Being aware that you do have choices will help you feel more in control.
  • Divide it up
    Whenever possible, divide big life changes into smaller pieces. A house move, a wedding or a divorce involves several stages. When you feel overwhelmed by the enormity of a change, concentrate on -- and appreciate -- the smaller milestones you're accomplishing along the way.
  • Search for the good change brings and celebrate
    Some changes are very positive while others feel awful. Some feel like the end of the world. It is very important to celebrate the good connected to any change, even if you have to look for it.
  • Know that it will end
    All change comes to an end when the new circumstances are in place and become familiar to you. Every change, no matter how big, will eventually end and you'll return to a feeling of normality.

We can help

The good news is that with change, we grow wiser and stronger and learn to make better decisions. For those individuals who may need additional resources to cope with change, Headway has an experienced staff that can help provide the extra support and resources needed.

Having a caring and supportive place makes managing the stress that change brings easier. Find out more about Headway, and get a list of the specific program resources we offer, by visiting us at https://www.headway.org/serve/. Headway Emotional Health Services is here to help.

Pat Dale, CEO
Headway Emotional Health Services

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