What to Know About How to Deal With Change

Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on February 25, 2024
3 min read

We all experience change. Change is fluid and can be negative or positive. When things change in your life, it can impact your mental health and well-being. You may even feel out of control in situations that you didn’t expect. However, learning to manage the way you deal with these different situations will benefit your mental health. 

When good or bad change happens in your life, you’ll need to make an adjustment. Using healthy adjustment methods will help prevent negative effects on your mental health. 

Your outlook on the world affects how you deal with new situations. If you generally have a negative outlook on life, major changes may worsen these feelings. Negative thoughts and feelings can lead to greater stress. 

Even positive change can be upsetting to some. This is because a once-comfortable way of life will soon look different. You’re put out of your comfort zone, which makes it harder to deal with change.

When stress becomes overwhelming, it can hurt your mental health. Unhealthy coping mechanisms and a negative mindset can make dealing with change feel impossible. Stress caused by change may have many physical and mental symptoms that can hurt your overall well-being if you aren’t able to manage them in a positive way, such as: 

  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Digestive problems and stomachaches
  • Muscle tension and backaches
  • High blood pressure and heart problems
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Something called uncertainty bias impacts how you deal with change too. When a major life change happens, your brain automatically sees it as negative. This can influence your decision-making process and increase feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Learning the right techniques to deal with new or unexpected situations will benefit your mental health. Healthy coping mechanisms will allow your mental health to thrive. Being able to deal with change will boost your mood and lower stress levels.

Change can sometimes occur when you least expect it, and may be out of your control. However, having the right mindset and being flexible are important parts of dealing with change. If you’re dealing with new things in your life, you can try the following tips. 

Find something familiar. Even if it’s small, search for something stable that you can focus on. This grounding point will help guide you in unfamiliar moments and feelings. Performing daily habits, rewatching a television series you love, or even eating your favorite comfort food can ease the stress you have during a transition. These are great ways to make yourself feel happy and improve your overall mood. 

Understand your perspective in the world. When you look outside of your situation, you’ll be able to see how everything is in movement. There will be changes that may or may not impact your life. Seeing the world in a global sense can put your situation into perspective. This may make things seem smaller or more manageable. 

Be flexible. Learning to accept the unpredictability of the world will help you deal with unexpected events in your life. Letting go of expectations and restrictions in your life may make a new routine seem less scary. Try to keep an open mind with new experiences to understand them more fully. Perhaps some will even become enjoyable.

Find people who understand. When you’re dealing with a new transition, it’s good to talk to a trusted person in your life. Having others to lean on is better than trying to manage alone. Being supported by people you care about will help to make new experiences easier to handle.

When change happens, you may start to feel like you’re losing control. If that feeling becomes unbearable, you can seek help from a mental health professional. They’ll be able to guide you in a treatment plan. 

Your therapist might teach you the following coping strategies, which are linked to better mental health: 

  • Positive reframing 
  • Acceptance of the situation
  • Humor instead of negative behavior

Throughout life, there will be a lot of milestones and changes that come with them. There may be highs and lows, and it is OK to feel uneasy in the flow of things. However, if those feelings become overwhelming and lead to anxiety and depression, don’t hesitate to turn to your support system or therapist for guidance.