Coping with unexpected events, disruption to routines and dealing with anxiety-causing news can make us feel as if the rug is being pulled out from underneath our feet. Changes often catch us by surprise and without a plan. The need for crisis intervention can ruin our day, stretch our relationships to breaking and affect many aspects of our health and well-being.
According to acknowledged psychological principles, one of the key reasons we humans struggle with change is because of our loss of perceived control. The emotions that we feel during such times are usually uncomfortable and can be hard to share.
The misconception that we should, under any circumstances, be able to simply “get on with it” is a common one that leaves little room for comfort. And, at times, our efforts to internalize our problems or deal with those of our parents or loved ones forces us into survival mode—a place where it becomes harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other.
So how can we protect our health and happiness under sometimes thorny circumstances? Experts suggest it’s our cognitive flexibility that has the ability to save us. If, for instance, we can learn to open our minds and separate the simpler things from those that are more complex, coping will be easier. In other words, thinking flexibly just might help us better handle more difficult situations. And, if we can recognize, celebrate and plan for that which is still in our power to control rather than despairing over that which is lost, we’ll manage in a more productive, calm way. Here are some ideas worth sharing for when times get tough…
Seek out support. Most challenges get easier when someone is walking beside you and you can talk things through.
Try to keep control of and find pleasure in small parts of your life. Take a bath, go to the gym, buy a stock of healthy food or change the time you go to sleep or wake up.
If you can, don’t alter too many things at once. Prioritize and make decisions one at time, from the most to the least important.
Give yourself permission to be overwhelmed or confused.
And last but not least, be flexible. Stay open and ready to adapt to new ideas and find energy in them. You’re more resilient than you think!
Caroline Tapp-McDougall, Editor in Chief