How to Stay Mindful During a Particularly Stressful Life Change
Changing careers? Getting divorced? Moving to a new city? These are all big life changes that can cause a lot of stress. Even if the life change is a good thing, change in any way can be stressful. And letting stress consume you can be dangerous. It can affect you physically, mentally and even get in the way of other aspects of your life (even the ones not causing you any stress at all). Whether you’re currently going through a big change or you just want to learn how to deal with them in the future, here’s our advice for staying mindful during these stressful times.
Know that change is inevitable.
And it doesn’t have to be so scary! It’s when we hold on to the past (relationships, jobs, etc.) and can’t let go that hurts us the most. Being able to accept what is changing or has changed is crucial to getting through it. Welcome change. Don’t fight it. As we teach in DBT, change is the only constant.
View change as a learning opportunity.
With big life changes come big life lessons. You might be surprised to see how much you learn about yourself during these difficult times. Even if it’s knowing that yes, you can get through it, that’s an important lesson in itself. During these life changes, we grow and move into another phase of our life. It’s important to embrace what your next phase might have for you, and appreciate what you’ve learned in your previous phase.
Embrace the uncertainty.
What about change scares you? At the root of it, it’s the uncertainty we fear. We like knowing what’s going to happen. It makes us feel safe. If you’ve been at the same job for a long time, you know what your day-to-day will look like. You might have felt unhappy at this job, but at least you felt comfortable with your co-workers, had a steady paycheck and did great work. Now you leave that for a new job, perhaps even a completely new career. You may feel uncertain about your new work environment, your boss, your co-workers, etc. Can you actually excel at this job? Will you be able to have a work / life balance? Will you be able to grow within the company? You won’t know any of these answers until you try. And who knows? It’s very well possible that you’ll love your new office, boss and co-workers even more than your last job.
Set an intention.
When you think of setting an intention, you might think this is only applicable in yoga or meditation. While it’s an important part of both practices, it’s something that can benefit your everyday life. Try it during one of these big life changes. What do you want to see happen at your new job? In your new city? Or your new relationship? It can be “I’m going to be more involved in my new community.” Or “I’m going to be a better communicator in this relationship.” Even if your life change hasn’t happened yet but you want it to, manifest that change. “I’m going to do everything I can to find the job of my dreams.” The mind is a powerful thing!
Take things one step at a time.
It’s possible that you have several life changes going on at once. Maybe you’re having a baby while moving to a new city. You got a promotion at work and you're getting married in the same week. Whether or not you view these as positive changes, know that they will be for the best. Taking each change one step at a time is the best way to minimize stress. If you still have to pack for your move or get the nursery ready for the baby, make a list of what you need to do for this process to run as smoothly as possible. There's something about writing it all down that makes it that much easier to manage.
Practice letting go.
As we mentioned earlier, holding onto the past can be detrimental to our future. With any sort of change comes loss. Whether you view your life change as positive or negative, you still need to grieve that loss. Once you’ve had the time to properly do that, it’s time to fully embrace the new phase of your life and let go of the past. This is by far the hardest step but it’s the one that will make all the difference.
Be kind to yourself.
Showing yourself some love and compassion is exactly what you need during this difficult time. Big life changes are hard…and you should be proud of yourself for taking the right steps to get through it. Don’t let change get in the way of giving yourself the love you deserve.
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