dealing with change from a mental health expert

Change, it can impact us all in so many different ways. Sometimes we take it in our stride, and other times, it gets the better of us. Discover how to handle it with these practical tips from mental health expert, Kirsty Lilley.

Change can be major – such as getting married, moving house or being made redundant – or small, such as changing your hair style.

However, what we have all experienced during the pandemic is change on an unprecedented scale. Being more emotionally resilient can boost your ability to cope with change when it’s out of your control.  

Here, mental health expert, Kirsty Lilley, shares some practical tips for effectively dealing with change.  

remember it’s ok not to be ok 

Your feelings (good or bad) are a completely normal and understandable response to change. Allow yourself to ease into the situation. Give yourself time to process how you feel about the changes. Anxiety may be pushing you to rush back into the world, but try to go at your own pace. Dealing with change is mentally and physically tiring. 

Make time for periods of rest and replenishment. A rested mind and nourished body will make better decisions moving forward. 

take it a step at a time 

Day-by-day or hour-by-hour if you need to. 

The most effective use of your time and energy is to focus on what you can control right now. Focusing on short-term outcomes will help you navigate each day with a sense of control, and make sure you have enough energy and motivation to keep going. 

Break problems down into manageable pieces. Then, prioritise what is most important to you right now and develop an action plan for moving forward. Always try to pull your focus back to what you are currently dealing with and watch out for signs that your brain is over-estimating levels of danger. 

Ask yourself:What’s in my control right now? 

Helpful thought:  I won’t feel like this forever. 

see things differently  

Instead of dreading changes, try to view them as an opportunity to learn. If you can see change in a positive – rather than negative – light, it can boost your resilience and help you deal with it more positively too. 

Meanwhile, instead of letting change creep up on you, try to be more proactive and look out for any changes that may be coming. Thinking ahead and planning for the future can also make you feel that you have more control over what happens to you. 

Ask yourself:What’s good about this? How can I use this? What can I learn from this to help me in the future? 

Helpful thought: This feels difficult right now, but what else is true? What feels positive? 

keep a record  

The next time you're facing a major change, writing down how you feel about it, as well as how you plan to deal with it, could be useful. 

After you have recorded your feelings, decide what you want to achieve in relation to the change in question. Then write down your goals and how you plan to make them happen, including any skills you may have that could help. Be really specific where your goals are concerned, and think about how you can measure success. Don't forget to set achievable goals and, where possible, establish a clear timeframe for reaching them. 

move on 

When change comes along that you can't control, don't let it get the better of you. Try to carry on with everything else in your life as normally as possible. Realise there are some things you can and can’t do, and instead of dwelling on any mistakes you may have made, put them behind you and move on. 

One way to keep your worries in perspective is to take a long-term view. For instance, how do you see the changes that are happening now affecting you in one, two or six months? Remind yourself that change never lasts, and that things will become normal again at some point as the change becomes more familiar to you. 

look after yourself  

Change can be exhausting, mentally and physically. Instead of battling through it, take time to recharge your batteries. This doesn't have to involve a complete break, but could be something as simple as taking a walk to clear your head

Sometimes, change can also mean less time to yourself – after having a promotion at work, for instance, when you may feel pressured into working longer hours. At times like these, it's especially important to remember to eat healthily, get some exercise and relax as much as possible. 

Change is inevitable. But how we deal with it doesn’t always have to be the same. Adopting a positive mindset and tackling it proactively, no matter how daunting this may seem at first, can really pay off on multiple levels. Remember, dealing with change is rarely instant, and that coping or adapting to it can take time. Be patient, be kind to yourself and accept it as much as you possibly can. 


about the author 

Kirsty has delivered mindfulness and self-compassion courses to a wide variety of workplaces during her career and is also a trained psychotherapist and coach. She has worked at a strategic level within organisations developing wellbeing policies and been responsible for developing training courses on improving mental health and wellbeing, as well as courses designed to help line managers support people with mental health difficulties effectively and continually works towards the reduction of stigma within workplace settings. Kirsty is committed to an integrated and compassionate approach when helping others to fulfil their potential. 

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