Saturday, January 6, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Embracing Change

I’m watching people in my community becoming unglued by upcoming changes due to school redistricting and the retirement of several principals. I came across a quote that I thought was not only appropriate for this situation, but also for anyone affected by chronic health issues- The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new.

People are trying so hard to keep things as they know them, they’re not only missing opportunities but they’re making themselves and everyone around them miserable.

Whether it’s a change in health status, loss of a job, best friend moves away or something else, the unfamiliar can be an opportunity to steer yourself in a new more positive direction. However our natural inclination is to react with fear and concern. Part of it is our wiring-we fear the unknown. However, there are ways to handle change that make it less stressful.

Change is the one constant in life and by learning to accept and embrace it, we open ourselves to many new and wonderful opportunities.

Consider the following:
• Give yourself some breathing room: Take your time to understand what’s happened and don’t get caught up in a whirlwind of activity.

• Take care of yourself: It’s easy to let yourself eat bad food, skip exercise or even skip meds when you are distracted. While absorbing the changes, take care of yourself by eating healthy foods, socializing, getting enough sleep etc. Pamper yourself with healthy options.

• Accept that you don’t know it all: To learn something new you often have to change your mind. Not something we like to do but if we aren’t willing to change our ideas, we’re not going to grow and change will be more difficult.

• Silence your “reptile brain.” We’re programmed for survival and so we often function like there is a tiger that’s going to pounce on us at any minute. We imagine the worse possible things, which rarely if ever come true and if they do, they aren’t half as bad as we imagine.

• Grow flexibility: Try something new. Get in the habit of trying new things-maybe even once a day. Seek out new perspectives. Really listen to other ideas. Try to argue both sides of a debate. The more flexibility you develop the easier change becomes and the more you can live comfortably with a certain level of uncertainty.

• Review past changes in your life: Sometimes by examining other times in your life when major changes have occurred you’ll find that not only did you weather them just fine, but they often produced some very positive results.

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