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Dealing with any major life transition can be stressful. This may result in feelings of positive stress (eustress) and negative stress (distress) or a combination of both. Either way, it may feel overwhelming on top of everything else. We’ve put together some insight into understanding change.

CHANGE Why is it hard?

Life is an ongoing cycle of inevitable change. Some changes are quick, like when you switch sports teams or subjects, and others take months or years, such as settling comfortably into a new area, becoming a parent or changing jobs. Whatever the change, it can be uncomfortable, scary, overwhelming, uncertain, exciting and refreshing, and will impact you positively or negatively in some way.

Some people fear change because it is the unknown and by nature, we all like things that are comfortable and secure. Others thrive on the excitement and novelty of change, and see it as a challenge.

The stages of change

Remember that change follows a similar path for everyone, but the timing may be different.

1

Shock and disorientation

Initially you may feel confused and uncertain about the change.
2

Emotional response

Then you may feel upset or excited about the situation, or you may swing between positive and negative feelings.
3

Coming to terms

Your focus will start to shift from what you’ve lost and more towards what’s new.
4

Acceptance

You will start to accept the changed circumstances. This doesn’t mean you don’t still miss your former situation, as you have memories, skills and relationships to carry forward, but you will move on
5

Reinforcement

In time, you will see the benefits of change and how you have grown as a person.

How to make change and transitions smoother

reducing uncertainty
Reduce uncertainty

Understand that all change takes time. Don’t pressure yourself into thinking you will feel comfortable with the changes immediately. Now may not be your new normal, but in time it will be.

appreciate positives
Appreciate the positives and identify negatives

Think through what you like about the change and what is challenging you. For example, a challenge may be that you can’t work out where anything is at the new hospital and it is stressful finding your way around. The positive is that you have more control over your health and decisions now that you are an adult.

accept & reframe
Identify what’s controllable and set goals

CF can be unpredictable. Life can be unpredictable. Learning to identify what is in your control helps reduce stress. For example, next time you’re at the clinic or having an admission, make a point of finding where the good food or best parking spot is. The more knowledge and organisation you have, the more comfortable you will feel.

set goals
Accept and reframe

Some change is unwanted and beyond your control. Although it may be difficult, try taking a reflective approach and accept that you will need to work with the change, as opposed to fighting it. You still may not like the change, but it won’t have the same emotional impact if you stop resisting it. Talking it out with peers or professionals and reflecting on their advice, can be the best strategy for dealing with unwanted change.

Time out
Time out

Try to take a break from thinking. Watch the footy, hit the skatepark, wander the shops or get your nails done. Self-care is a buzz word, but it works.