Why Change is Good – and 6 Ways You Can Embrace It

by | Read time: 6 minutes

We all know that change is the only constant in life, but that doesn’t make it any easier. The loss of a loved one, the growing up (and out of the house) of our children, a difficult breakup—all can challenge our confidence and resilience, especially when they’re changes we haven’t actually asked for. Indeed, even if the change is positive—nailing that job we’ve always wanted, or moving into that home we’ve long coveted—the transition can send our whole world into a tailspin.

And yet, at the same time, change is vital to our character.


Because change is the key to growth.

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Imagine life without change, both on the personal and universal level. Where would you be if you hadn’t finished that training or degree, said yes to that invitation, or operated on a leap of faith? Likewise, where would be as a species if we hadn’t greeted automobiles, anesthesia, or, gasp, the internet?

As Abigail Brenner, MD, worded it in Psychology Today, “While change may interrupt the usual flow of our daily lives and disrupt our normal functioning, it also affords us the opportunity, and the challenge, to examine our lives and to alter its course.” In other words? Change—even uncomfortable or heartbreaking change—can enliven our existence, stimulate a personal revolution, and enrich our wisdom.

All that being said, transformation of any kind can feel like total chaos. But rather than bolting for the next exit or being stunned into paralysis, know that there’s plenty you can do to not only survive change but welcome it.

Here are six ways to embrace both the good and bad bumps in life:

1. Get writing

Blindsided by a sudden change in your life, or apprehensive about taking the next step? Get out your journal and jot down three big changes you’ve already endured. What were the benefits of these experiences? How did you cope—and, if you didn’t cope well, how would the future you like to say you managed change this time? How did you evolve in the past, and how would you like to progress moving forward? Finding perspective over your past will not only prove to you that you’re capable of surviving change, but can also use transitions of any kind as a gift. At the same time, articulating what you would like to gain from change will spur you to become proactive and empowered.

2. …and get still

Anxiety can have an anesthetizing effect on some, but it pushes others into a tizzy. If you fall into the latter category, chances are you’re moving at 90 mph and are burned out to boot.

To remedy this, pause, get still, and endeavor to move at a slower pace. It’ll help reduce stress, bring you back to the present moment, and place you in a position to make good use of the change you’re going through.

“The danger of going through change without allowing ourselves to truly experience it is that transition through change may not actually occur,” Brenner says. “For change to have a salutary effect on us, we need to learn to effectively work with it and not to run the other way when it presents itself.”

3. Practice acceptance

Turning away from change—or resisting it mightily—is about as effective as attempting to swim against a current.

Take it from Rick Hanson, PhD and author of Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness:“I’m aging, friends are getting cancer, our children are leaving home, and the San Francisco 49ers don’t look as good as they did last year. I don’t like these changes! But if I add resistance to them, if I go to war with change itself, that just makes me feel worse, and sometimes fires me up to act badly.”

Meaning, you don’t have to necessarily like the change you’re facing, but by surrendering to it happening—by capitulating to the notion that to be alive is to be in constant, changing motion—the less tense and more open you will be to finding the rewards that may eventually arrive from it.

4. Prioritize self-care

Panic, anxiety, straight-up terror: Change of any sort can evoke a whirlwind of emotions, most of them associated with distress. Why? Because when life has become routine, you essentially work on autopilot. You know your job, your relationships, and your home, and any slip from the norm can trip the alarm bells in your brain, increasing your stress response (and the hormones that come with it) and upping your chances of behaving in a reactive fashion. (“Cold feet” and “Bridezilla” exist for a reason.) If change alone is tough, change on an empty stomach or a poor night’s sleep will undoubtedly make it harder.

With this in mind, don’t just aim to practice self-care in an offhand manner but prioritize it. Eat a balanced diet that’s jam-packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs to combat positive and negative stress, such as tryptophan-rich turkey (which has a calming effect), brain-boosting blueberries, probiotic-booming yogurt (which may aid with any anxiety-related, tummy troubles you’re battling) and stress-easing salmon. (Craving carbs? Go with a bowl of oatmeal: Research shows that it helps support serotonin levels.) Additionally, stay hydrated, get adequate, quality sleep, and exercise daily.

5. Anchor yourself

That “daily” is crucial—not just with exercise, but with your entire routine. Accustomed to walking your dog at 7am, taking your vitamins and supplements with breakfast, and reading a few pages of a novel before bed? By all means, try to stick with your schedule as much as possible.

“An anchor is a reminder that some things are still the same, and it gives your brain a little bit of rest,” says Stephanie A. Sarkis, PhD, who also recommends keeping a list at hand: “Sometimes when you are going through a lot of change it helps to write down your routine and check it off as you go. It’s one less thing for your brain to have to hold inside.”

6. Pivot towards the positive

Change—even the changes we’ve actively advocated for—doesn’t arrive without a sense of loss, and this alone can arouse a number of negative emotions, grief chief among them. And yet, what if you started to consider your loss as, well, space for something new? The end of a relationship, for example, is always hard, but it also gives you room—and literal time—to fill it with something new: Dance classes instead of dinner with your partner; more coffee dates with your friends; the energy to pursue a new passion. Moving to a new city can test your comfort levels, but consider what you’re bound to discover, too: new cafés, new places to work out, new friends, new outdoor sports.

Once you start thinking of change through an optimistic lens (even if you have to fight for that optimism), it can go from daunting to downright exciting. Which, really, is what life should be all about.

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