7 Tips to Help You Adapt to Change

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Change. Back to school brings big change at our home. Back into routine, back into early mornings, back into last minute outfit changes, and back to quick sneaker double knots and running out the door to catch the bus. Anyone else experiencing this change right now?  

Maybe you aren’t experiencing the back to school routine changes, but perhaps a change in schedule, change in a relationship or maybe a change in job responsibilities. Change, whether good or bad, requires adaptation. This adaptation takes energy and can cause physical and emotional stress to you and nobody needs additional stress added to their day! 

“Change always comes bearing gifts” – Price Pritchett

How do you adapt to change?  Do you find yourself embracing the change and making it all work? Or are you flustered with everything going on around you and quickly go into shut down mode? Do you use any strategies to help you adapt to change?  

Not to worry if you realize you haven’t handled change well in the past. Adapting to change is a skill you can learn!! 

Let’s look at 7 tips to make adapting to change a bit easier for you and those around you.  

7 Tips to Help You Adapt to Change 

1. Find humor in the situation 

There may not always be something comical about the situation but maybe your reaction to it is the comical hinge point. A poor patient outcome is no laughing matter, but thpatient bed and equipment dance we tried to perform when entering the elevator was priceless. Find the humor, at the appropriate time, and help it bring you through the processing of the situation.  

2. Talk about the problems more than feelings 

What is the change? Let’s talk about it minus the feelings. Research finds that actively and repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions about the change hinders our adaptation to the change. This is not to say just “suck it up” and ignore the feelings. Instead, speak about the anxiety and anger at the onset of the change so that you are aware of how it might cloud your thinking or disrupt the change. Then, look for practical advice about how to move forward. This will allow you to zone in on the problem and change needed rather than a focus on your feelings 

3. Don’t stress about stressing out 

My one rule is to let myself freak out for about a minute. Remember in July’s newsletter how I said I like to smile? Well, I will smile on the outside and freak out on the inside for about a minute. Then, it is action time. I don’t have time to stress about it and neither do you! Creating a to-do list or a timeline will give you focus.  

4. Focus on your values instead of your fears 

We are often fearful of change because we don’t focus on our values. I was speaking with a patient’s family member who was a prominent business leader. We were discussing how I wanted to do more blog writing because it aligned with my values but this change came along with many uncertainties about time and impact. She stopped, looked at me and said, “You don’t need to be fearless about your passions, but you need to fear less.” Fear less. What is the worst that can happen? If the change aligns with your values, then give it a go!  

5. Accept the change and fight to make it happen 

Don’t expect stability or the change to be easyIf the change is beyond your control, try taking a reflective approach. Accepting that there are things beyond your control and choosing to be comfortable with that fact, is likely to bring greater peace of mind than waging a war on the change. View the change as an opportunity to learn and grow rather than new rules set against you. As a nurse, the electronic health record can be our arch enemy. When updates roll-out with new documentation requirements, we spit nails. However, I find when the updates are explained and how they affect my documentation and the patient needs, then I am able to accept the change easier and make it happen.  

6. Celebrate the positives 

Even though you may find it a tough task, focusing on the positives can really help you manage change. While the positive aspects of change might not be obvious to begin your adaptation, it is worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be.  For example, I find all my nurse colleagues and friends to be list makers (see tip #3). As you mark off items on your list, give yourself a pat on the back, a walk around the block, or a small treat to celebrate movement towards change.  

7. Seek support, if needed 

It is normal to feel overwhelmed if the change you are facing is really big. If you find you are not adapting well or not at all, then it might be time to seek support. Consider asking your friends or colleagues. Maybe they have been in a similar position and can offer support. If you are out of options, then do seek professional help. My siblings and I have found ourselves in the middle of dealing with our father’s increased anxiety, depression and what appears to be the beginnings of dementia. Our mother is tired and at her wits end with trying to manage him a lot. We have been called in to help get him the support needed not only for his changes but the changes we are all experiencing. It is not easy but we now feel on a better path for him and ourselves.  

Change can be difficult, but using tips to help you adapt to change can make it a bit more pleasant. The next change will be easier for you when you take the time to look at the change needed, focus on the adaption to change, and remain calm. Do yourself a favor and use these tips when the next change comes into your day.  

Be Kind. Care. Smile. 

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