Whether good or bad, change is a proven stressor, a result of your body and mind working hard to adjust to a “new normal.” At every stage of life, change is inevitable, even if it’s something as small as taking a new medication. For big changes, such as retiring or moving to assisted living, stress can be even more intense. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make change easier.
Understand the Change Curve
It can help to understand the steps many people go through when confronted with change. This is best done by looking at The Change Curve, a model that shows how the human mind processes change. It’s a seven-stage process that gradually moves you from hearing about a change to fully accepting it.
- Stage 1: Shock – At this phase, you may have difficulty processing what’s happening.
- Stage 2: Denial – During this phase, you may look for proof that the information isn’t true.
- Stage 3: Frustration – Anger can come in this phase as you recognize that things are going to be different.
- Stage 4: Depression – During this phase, you may exhibit a low level of energy.
- Stage 5: Experiment – As the journey toward acceptance begins, you’ll begin to take a look around at the new situation.
- Stage 6: Decision – Your mood may improve as the reality of the new normal sets in.
- Stage 7: Integration – At this phase, you’ll be fully integrated into the new situation and excited to take on your new adventure.
It’s important to note that the stages may not happen exactly in that order, but it can help to be aware of them. Instead of rushing yourself, acknowledge that you just need time to adjust, and ask others to respect your need to adapt.
Come Up with a Plan
One of the biggest frustrations about change is the feeling of a loss of control. One way to eliminate that stressor is to simply sit down and make a plan. Ask a loved one to help you if you’d prefer. If the change is to your medication timing, for instance, use a timer to help you, at least in the early stages.
Make It Gradual
Change doesn’t have to happen overnight. Try to ease the transition by gradually incorporating the changes into your life, if possible. If you’re making a big change like moving to assisted living, for example, bring plenty of personal items over that will help the new place feel like home.
Lean on Loved Ones
You aren’t alone in this. Your loved ones care about you and want to make sure you’re happy. Let them know your concerns and ask them to help you through the process. Change can be difficult, but talking things through can make it much easier. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing that someone hears your concerns and cares about them.
Change can be tough, but it helps to know that stress is a natural process. Gradually making your way through the change curve can help ease each transition until finally, you’re happier and healthier within your new normal.