Can being overwhelmed by change stop you from thriving?

If your wellness has been a low priority then embracing change can be difficult

It’s been 4 months since we moved to Suffolk; I have delayed unpacking the last few boxes, and I don’t feel quite connected to the location yet.  Not knowing whether we would be here for one or two years was my excuse for not settling-in, I didn’t see the point if we would be off again in the summer.  Is this a self-protecting mechanism?  Am I putting barriers in place to avoid forming emotional ties? Connections and bonds to a location and new friends that I will loose when we move again.  I needed to support my own mental wellness to help embrace this posting and future location changes.

Posting cycle - 6 months to settle in, 12 months loving the posting and then the last 6 months preparing for next posting.  Embrace change with each posting.

I have been told be seasoned spouses that it takes the first 6 months to settle (whilst grieving the last posting). You then have 1 year of enjoying the posting. With the last 6 months spent dis-associating yourself and preparing for the next move.  I have definitely felt that this is true with this posting and previous ones.

  

Change within the military and civvy community

It is the adjustment to change and the emotions of loss that often unsettles us, but is it any different if you lived on ‘civvy street’?  

This is a debate that I had with the husband just the other day (we clearly need to get out more!!) and we reflected on how change would have also affected us if he hadn’t had joined the army.

For the military community, change is often inevitable and frequent – postings, promotions, deployment are all part and parcel of this life but we benefit from knowing that change is, for most part, in the diary and we can be prepared for it (the powers that be do occasionally like to throw us off guard).  In the civvy community, change also occurs and can also have a high level of uncertainty – there’s often no regular opportunity for promotions, working up the career ladder will sometimes require a job and relocation move, there are also redundancies and company relocations.  With all this considered, could we actually be in a better position? – the husband thought yes, and I was on the fence undecided….  Regardless of the answer, what we need to remind ourselves is that there are many changes in life that cannot be planned for and controlled, and for our own wellness it would be best to embrace change rather than shy away from it.

If the military community had more help to support their mental and physical wellness, I believe that when faced with change they would be better equipped to embrace it and thrive.

Change should not be something to fear

Evolutionary, we are a successful species. Primarily because of our outstanding ability to adapt to our changing environment.  In fact, if we weren’t required to adapt then we wouldn’t have progressed as a species and it really is quite remarkable how much humans have progressed in the last two centuries… but that’s off topic.

Personally, I think that constant change is a contributing factor to why our military spouses/partners/families are the most adaptable, resourceful and entrepreneurial community you will meet! If the military community had more help to support their mental and physical wellness, I believe that when faced with change they would be better equipped to embrace it and thrive.

Military spouses/partners/families are the most adaptable, resourceful and entrepreneurial community you will meet!

How do we embrace change?

A podcast worth listening to is Dr Chatterjee’s and his episode with guest speaker Marie Forleo.  Discussing her philosophy that ‘everything is figureoutable’ and that we all have what it takes to excel with any challenge we may face.  

A quick take-away from listening to her common-sense approach is that:

Life should be progressive not perfect.  

Perfectionism will hold you back and should not be a measure of success.  The next time you want to change a habit or drive your life forward (personal or work) remind yourself that the smallest imperfect step forward is more progressive than waiting for that elusive perfect situation.  

Rephrase ‘I can’t’ to ‘I won’t’

By rephrasing ‘I can’t’ to ‘I won’t’, you help yourself to own your reason for not doing something.  (This is something that resonated with me!!  I have spent the last year tackling my limiting beliefs so I could start embracing a few sticking points).  Do you often tell yourself that you can’t commit to something because childcare is an issue, or you can’t start going to the gym because you don’t have time?  In truth, you could… but at that particular time you don’t want to, the benefits of the change/new habit are not enough to outweigh the current situation.  By rephrasing to I won’t, or I don’t want to, you take ownership of why you are not embracing that change.   In the long term, you can work on those reasons and barriers so that eventually you are ready to change. Help yourself to embrace change!

“I don’t want to go to the gym” – ask yourself why… maybe it’s that really you don’t like the gym environment… or you don’t know what to do with the weights….  Once you whittle down to why you really don’t want to go to the gym, it can addressed and overcome.  You can find something else to improve your fitness that doesn’t involve the gym like walking, running or going to a bootcamp.  You could hire a PT or find a friend who can show you how to use the weights.  When you are ready to change, you can say “I will get a PT to show me how to train properly so I can start going to the gym”.

5 simple and easy ways to help support your wellness so that you are in a better mindset to embrace change (planned or unexpected)

1. Have a regular bedtime routine.  
Woman asleep in her bed with dog.   Text reads "sleep well".  Sleep improves wellness.

Quality sleep as a form of mental and physical health support that is underused and undervalued.  It is drug-free and doesn’t cost a penny, and without sleep our bodies are unable to recover eventually showing signs of physical and mental breakdown.  A regular bedtime routine will create a healthy sleep pattern and you will wake up feeling rested.  The average person requires 8 hours of sleep each night, therefore if your morning alarm is set at 0600, then your regular bedtime should be 2200.  To prepare yourself for sleep have 30mins of dim-lit quiet time prior to bedtime, keep the bedroom temperature on the cool side and keep the screens out of the bedroom. 

2. Cut out the afternoon and evening caffeine.  

I do love a cuppa tea but in reality… I need to cut back!!  Simply put and without getting into the science: The more caffeine you consume, the less quality sleep you’ll get and consequently the more caffeine you need.  It’s a vicious circle.  By cutting out the caffeine after midday will ensure that the majority of the chemical is out of your system by the time it is bedtime.  Find a replacement drink that you enjoy- hot water and lemon, fridge-cold water, jasmine tea, the list is vast.

3. Unplug from the unnecessary and staged virtual world.  

This one is simple; constantly seeing everyone’s perfect moments on social media leads to envy and unachievable expectations.  Unfollow those that make you feel crap; remember – life is about progress not perfectionism.  Follow those that support your progress and encourages the imperfections.

4. Surround yourself by supportive like-minded people.  

Similar to point 3 but in the ‘real’ world. Your friends and community should be those people that celebrate your success, support you when you need it and pick you up when you fall. Our retreats help us do just that!!  

5. Chat, talk and write about what is in your head.  

Use positive self-talk, journal about your dreams and goals, and when you need a shoulder to lean on use your voice to express your vulnerability, barriers and limiting beliefs.  Someone else’s experience or knowledge may just help you progress forward.

Support your wellness to help embrace change

Additional resources:

New Leaf Counselling: Accepting change blog post

Sleep foundation