Looking back one year ago, I do not think that any of us imagined just how much our world would change due to Covid-19. Although there remain many questions along the path before us, one thing seems certain; this part year has changed all of us forever. As Helen Keller once said "A bend in the road is not the end of the road... unless you fail to make the turn." What frequently makes change more stressful is when we fight again it tooth and nail, rather than accepting it and making the best of our circumstances. Perhaps Socrates said it best: "the secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new."
Having a plan to deal with stress related to change is important for your health. Below, I have summarized some practical tips from the Crisis Response Network on dealing with change related stress. These tips are known as the "Five R's" and are an excellent way to turn change related stress into an opportunity for personal growth.
Relaxation is the physiological antidote to stress. There are many way to relax including exercise, meditation and a variety of activities. One of my personal favorite ways to relax is to walk along the beach bare footed in the sand near sunset and watch the sun slowly slip over the horizon until it disappears. Focusing our attention on the beauty around us can hep us to relax and wash away our stress, like the waves washing away footprints in the sand.
Reflection is an effective way to deal with stress because it forces us to examine how we are feeling and how our behavior is effecting those around us. Negative thoughts and feelings below the surface of our awareness can cause great damage to ourselves as well as those around us. Devoting a small amount of time each day to reflect on how we might be a blessing to those around us will do wonders for our stress.
It is important to reassess your feelings and separate the fear of the unknown from the fear of the unlikely. Reassess your intake of social media and news coverage, as a constant barrage of sensational and frequently negative information is difficult to withstand. Reassess your relationships and where you are spending your time. Make sure you are investing your time in activities that align with your values.
If there are, particular situations, which you find to be very stressful, think about what you can do to make them less stressful. Instead of rushing through the airport in order to catch your flight, try arriving two hours before your flight, and enjoy some people watching as you wait for your flight. If you find certain people stressful to deal with, rehearse in your mind hw you will answer theme when they put you on the spot and then you will find it will be much less stressful when they do put your on the spot.
There is definitely something to be said for routines, especially healthy ones. Three keys to good health are diet, exercise and sleep. By developing a routine, which ensures regular nutritious meals on a schedule, exercising regularly and have a regular sleep and wake pattern, you will be helping to stress proof your body.
Change is inevitable; but we do not have to let the change overwhelm us!