It is said that some of the biggest stressors are when something changes in our lives. And many times it feels like we need to use all our resources to try and cope with this change.
That is why getting married, getting divorced, starting a family or a new job, or moving house is a big deal!
When you become stressed like this, the smallest things can set you off or through you totally off balance.
A few years ago, I moved to Austria from South Africa, and food shopping became one of my biggest challenges, ha!
Everything was different.
I could never find specific things I was looking for. I didn’t recognize many of the products on the shelves. Things were packed in different groupings to what I was used too.
I struggled with the language. I received blank looks from the staff if I asked for something.
And, to top it off, being 5 months pregnant at the time made me a touch emotional!
An overwhelming experience
I was pulled out of my comfort zone for sure, and it is the same for everyone who experiences change.
There are so many new things to learn, see and discover that our mind kind of shuts down, to protect us from overwhelm.
After a while, I realized that shopping for groceries seemed easier than before and even better than that, I could find the stuff that I was looking for (mostly!).
So while you will learn to cope with change over time, there is another way that you can make it easier for yourself.
A dip in Self-confidence
Collins English Dictionary defines a comfort zone as a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control. Bréne Brown goes on to define it as a place where we feel in control, and our uncertainty and vulnerability are minimized.
The homeostatic impulse of our brain – to keep everything the way that is; makes staying in our comfort zone our default behavior. Don’t expect any growth to happen here, everything stays the same.
You do the same things you always do and think the same thoughts you always think.
While it keeps you emotionally safe for a while, it’s a bit of a bummer that you lose out on fun stuff don’t you think?
But it’s not just about having fun. (Even though that is a good idea). When your thinking and your actions don’t change but everything else around you does, it has the nasty little effect of eroding your self-confidence.
As life happens to us, guaranteed there will be something that has the potential to affect your confidence levels.
5 Things to help you cope with change
Today I want to tell you about 5 things that you can do, to help you cope when your life has drastically changed.
1 Admit that you are anxious, stressed out or overwhelmed
By denying or suppressing our negative feelings we are in fact making them worse. Think of a pressure cooker that is building up, without any release. Admitting to yourself what you are feeling, allows you to stop hiding from yourself and face your fears with a little more ease.
2 Come up with a strategy to support you
When I started driving in Vienna, I was petrified. I had to get used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, with a left-hand drive and still keep a lookout for trams – the total opposite of what I was used to. Getting my independence was important to me. I bought a driver handbook which I studied and I did EFT tapping, each time that I stopped at a traffic light. It took a while, but I felt empowered throughout the process and oncoming trams don’t freak me out anymore!
3 Go easy on yourself
Do you know the saying: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Being outside of your comfort zone will require courage from you. Be kind to yourself, allow yourself to take baby steps. Avoid trying to conquer the world in a day. There’ll be time for that later.
4 Get a support system
Find friends! Look for groups in your community that have similar interests to you. Make a friend at your local gym. If you have young children, the easiest way to meet new people is in the playground. If you are really taking strain, consider getting some professional help. A coach or mentor can help you gain distance from your situation. When we are able to look at something objectively we often neutralize some of the perceived threats.
5 Recognize your achievements
Celebrate your small wins. Acknowledge yourself for making that call, having the conversation, taking the first step. Every achievement serves as a stepping stone that you can build on. It’s important to recognize how far you have come.
It’s a start
The important thing is to start somewhere. While none of these 5 points are instant confidence creators (and don’t believe anyone who’ll tell you otherwise) they lay the foundation to help you cope with change.