Our lives are in a constant state of change. That’s just what life is about.
We experience transitions in work and relationships, changes in our physical and mental health, and new events in our local communities and the wider world. Sometimes we know change will happen, while other times it comes suddenly and unexpectedly. Maybe it’s a disappointment, or maybe it’s a wonderful surprise.
Coping with change can sometimes be uncomfortable, stressful or even scary. Some people spend a great deal of time and energy trying to avoid change.
However, if you can learn to cope with change, you’ll lower your risk of anxiety and depression and you will feel healthier.
A small or minor amount of stress can even make you feel overwhelmed by life, if you can’t manage change; to take control. You might also struggle to set and meet the goals you have for yourself to advance your life.
Being able to cope with change is referred to as resilience. The most resilient people see change as an opportunity rather than a monster to fear.
There are two ways people deal with change – they try to escape it or seek to control it. Escaping change is essentially avoidance, burying your head in the sand and ignoring the changes happening around you.
Attempting to control changes in your life is much more proactive and positive. By taking control you refuse to fall victim to change, instead you become part of the change and position yourself better to take advantage of new and emerging situations.
You can generate more positive thoughts if you take the time to remind yourself about transitions and challenges you successfully navigated in the past.
After my accident, I was told I had a condition called “spinal swelling”, which occurs when the spinal cord is traumatised. This shock - like any part of the body - causes the spinal cord to swell. When the swelling starts reducing it is possible for some people to also start regaining some movement and sensation. In some very rare cases, people regain most of these functions.
I spent about three months after my accident determined to walk out of hospital, and absolutely determined I was going to be one of the very fortunate few and regain mobility.
I was completely ignoring the major changes in my life and burying my head in the sand.
I remember explaining to a nurse that I was not attending rehabilitation sessions, because I was going to walk out of the hospital.
As the nurse pointed out the hospital wouldn’t discharge me until I had regained my strength and told me that by undergoing rehab I’d be able to get out faster when I regained movement in parts of my body.
It wasn’t until later that I realised that the nurse had helped me take control of my situation, like he had done with many patients before me. I stopped being the victim and kept trying to direct my energies towards making the most out of my everyday situation.
My mindset started to turn from one of avoidance to that of control with a good dose of black humour thrown in.
Key things to remember: You can’t avoid changes in your life, but you can embrace them and see challenges as opportunities. When you work towards making the most out of changes in your life, you’re less likely to feel powerless or trapped in difficult circumstances or situations.