• Print Page

Wellness & Beyond

6 Ways to Effectively Manage Change

April 22, 2022

By D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program staff

We have found it important to acknowledge, out loud and often, that disruption to the status quo is stressful,woman with thought bubble, cogs, change even if the end result is positive. Welcome or not, change is an inevitable and important part of life. Without it we wouldn't evolve, and life would be dull. Frankly, even if we resist or avoid change, it will still happen. The question is how will we cope with it?

Life alters so quickly that sometimes it is hard to catch your breath, and you might be experiencing more than one change at a time. It is important to know that positive as well as negative changes can cause stress. They can be unexpected or expected, joyful or traumatic. As hard as you may try to manage any change in a positive way, it can easily become confusing, overwhelming, stressful, and scary. It can also add something new and exciting to your life. In this ever-changing world, learning to manage change in an effective way with an open attitude and outlook will help you be more in control, promoting greater happiness and healthiness.

Here are some tips on coping.

1. Know that change can cause a lot of mixed feelings — from sadness to excitement to anxiety — and sometimes all at the same time. Go back to the basics and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. By doing this you will reduce your stress and anxiety, which will enable you to better manage the change.

2. Recognize the little voice in your head that sometimes can be negative and bring down your mood. Reframe your negative thoughts to look at the situation differently. Record the negative thoughts on paper and then write down another way to look at the same situation.

3. Approach the change by breaking it down into manageable pieces. Even if you have no control over the actual change, you do have control over the steps you take to manage it. Take a piece of paper and write down the first thing you need to focus on and then continue step by step. Depending on the change, this process could occur over hours, days, or months, but it will reduce your anxiety and give you a sense of control and success.

4. Give yourself time to accept the change. If you are making a change in your life, for example, changing your eating habits or exercise routine, give yourself at least three weeks to feel comfortable with the change. It often takes time to acclimate.

5. Practice stress management and build in time for yourself. Even a few minutes a day can reduce your stress. Practice this simple breathing exercise: Sit quietly and breathe in through your nose slowly for six seconds, imagining you are filling yourself up with air from your feet to your head. Hold for six seconds, and then exhale through your mouth counting to six. Imagine you are blowing out a candle. Repeat six times.

6. When change becomes difficult, reach out to people you trust. Talking to someone who cares about you can help you work through your feelings. Seek professional help if you need additional support. The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program (LAP) is here for you.