All types of change bring with them a certain amount of stress, including good things like getting a new house, new job, getting married, or even going on vacation. Obviously, some changes are easier to deal with than others. But it’s how we approach the situation and deal with it that determines whether the stress levels are minimized.
Certainly, something drastic like the death of a family member or friend, going through a divorce, or losing a job will leave us reeling and trying to adjust. Those changes that are forced upon us, especially without warning, tend to be the ones that stress us out the most. But we can lessen the long-term impact if we allow ourselves to go through the mourning process, and then make an intentional effort to start moving forward. That doesn’t mean we can instantly “get over” whatever has happened, but it puts us on the path towards our new future, incorporating whatever changes have occurred.
Even changes that we are intentionally implementing ourselves, like trying to simplify our lives, to eat better, to be more active, can cause stress when we obsess about them. I think one of the best ways to keep moving forward towards those changes that we desire is to set SMALL goals. There can be a final goal that is larger, certainly, but if you’re trying to lose weight, for instance, don’t just set the goal of losing 50 lbs, also set a smaller goal of losing 1-2 lbs a week, or something similar. This gives you a sense of accomplishment at each small step, instead of becoming overwhelmed by the overall goal.
If you’re trying to simplify your life, try to make one small change at a time. Say you feel too busy, and you don’t have time to spend with your family. Try removing one regular activity from your calendar. Start by prioritizing–which activities are most important to you, and which ones are you doing only because you feel obliged to do so? Then practice gently saying “no”. Tell yourself that getting burnt out is not going to help anyone, and even though there are TONS of worthwhile activities and causes out there, you have to invest yourself in the ones that mean the most to you.
Most people will be very understanding when you tell them that you would love to help/participate/donate/etc, but you have too much on your plate right now. Remember, everyone has been there. And then here’s the important part–don’t beat yourself up about the decision, or second-guess it. Reassure yourself that it is the best choice for you and your family at this point in time, and maybe you will be able to participate again in the future.
Here is a great article about coping with those inevitable changes life throws at us: Why You’re So Afraid of Change (And What You Can Do About It)