Change     (Image Source)

Are you grieving?  Have you lost your job or your best friend?  Did your favorite boss ever just tell you she is leaving? Did you get robbed or did you have an accident?  Did your child get bullied at school?  There are so many challenges in life in addition to the rewards and benefits. Another word for these changes whether positive or negative, is stress.

We all know that change is going to happen in life, but when change chooses you rather than you choosing change, the challenges can seem overwhelming.

Do you fear change or do you seek it?  Are you afraid of bad things happening or do you expect the positive in life?  Your reaction to stress and difficulty can come from how much you have had to deal with in your life and how early it happened.  If you had to deal with death or rejection/abandonment/divorce. etc. as a child, you may have a harder time feeling resilient in your adult life.  Also, the presence of a positive and stable person in your early life can be enormously helpful in later years.

Whether you are going through a relationship break-up, a death, an illness, chronic or acute, a trauma from the past or present, or a positive change like getting married or having a child, you will want to have skills to adjust to your life experience and even grow in the process.

For some people, the most important factor in coping with change is getting support.  This can come from friends, family, support groups, religious and spiritual groups, and work community.  It is a fact that people can overcome and heal from traumatic events when they are able to talk about their experiences repeatedly and know they are not alone. If your regular support system isn’t enough, then therapy for stress can also be helpful.

Other important elements in coping with stress:

*Developing healthy habits that will support you when you need them.  Exercise or yoga practice is hard to start when you are in the middle of change, but can be comforting and supportive if you are accustomed to a routine.

*Knowing how to set limits and say no when you need to.  Also knowing when to say yes even when you don’t want to.  Overcompensating and isolating are equally unhelpful.  Finding a balance of being busy without being too busy is really helpful.

*Looking for a way to see the positive as well as the negative in your circumstance.  This doesn’t mean you need to force yourself to be Pollyanna.  An example of a positive reframing of a negative experience would be to think of change as a space that comes along in your life so something new can emerge.

*Accepting emotional pain rather than trying to push it away.  Fighting your feelings can cause inner turmoil and conflict.  Distraction and soothing are fine, of course, but it is helpful in the long run to experience your feelings.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control, or unable to cope, it might be time to get some extra help.  Counseling can help you connect with your strengths, understand yourself, and learn new skills to cope with stress.

Therapy for stress can help you to understand why you are not following through on some of the suggestions listed above. Also, having a supportive therapist who can listen to you without giving advice or telling you what to do can give you the opportunity to think through your options and motivation to make rewarding personal changes.