Fall is the one time of year when the changing of seasons is most visible. Even our fall holidays and traditions came about as a celebration of harvest time, the transition from growing season to winter. We’ve been inspired this month by the natural cycle of constant change as well as the constant flux of COVID protocols—where we spend our time working and learning, how we protect ourselves and each other and when and where it’s safe to gather. We are also celebrating World Mental Health Day on the 10th. Could we have picked a better time of year to talk about the importance of taking care of our thoughts and emotions in the face of constant change?
Change can bring with it all kinds of unpleasant emotions: anxiety, fear or discomfort, for example, even when it's a “good” change. But some changes in life are inevitable, and those feelings we don’t like are a valid and healthy part of it. Whatever is changing in your life right now, resisting your own feelings will likely only make them stronger. Instead, take some time to acknowledge and honor your feelings so you can decide how to respond with a clear head rather than react.
Even when you are overwhelmed by change, leaning into it and honoring that feeling can help you move through the most painful parts of it. Make the Under Armour slogan your personal motto: “The only way is through.” Or consider this quote from Glennon Doyle: “We're all on fire. That's ok because pain is not a destructive fire- it's a refining fire. We are like gold and being held to the fire purifies us. Don't run, don't numb- Be still and let the alchemy of pain happen to you. It won't consume you. You deserve to become what it will make you.” Once you have come to terms with your emotional reaction, you can be more fully present to cope with transitioning in the moment and you are free to start looking forward to what things might look like once the hard part has passed.
This is definitely not an easy skill to master, especially when a big change takes away your sense of control. Our world was rocked over and over again during the first waves of the coronavirus crisis, and we all experienced different kinds of loss, including the loss of control over our daily routines. Surviving that period of intense change was a big deal! Take time to reflect on what you learned about yourself during and after that time. Like that Glennon Doyle quote, in what ways did the refining fire make you stronger? What have you become that you wouldn’t have had the chance to be otherwise? Hold onto this perspective and surrender to the changes happening now with the knowledge that pain has transformed you into something great before—and you can survive it again to reap those rewards.
Finally, during times of stability, try to make intentional changes that feel good for you to regain that sense of control. Right now, many people are putting their new perspectives into motion and making big changes to their lifestyles. Some are moving to a new city, pursuing a new career or branching out to try new things and meet new people. Intentional change can be affirming and lead to great things! But again, this strategy really works best when things are generally calm. Don’t stress yourself out by taking on too much change at once. Find some constants in your life and tap into those to re-energize first. When you are feeling centered and secure, then you can start making moves.
This month, we encourage you to use mindfulness practices to take stock of how big life events have changed you and use those insights to prepare yourself for more transformation, both the unexpected kind and the intentional. Remember that growth never came from your comfort zone, and there is always more positive growth in store for you—if you choose it.
You don’t have to do this alone! Our Create Your Calm group for teens and our Mindful Mama’s group are both kicking off this month, and if you are new to mindfulness or feeling a little isolated, they are great spaces for connecting with others like you. Click here to learn more and register today!