How to Thrive in Times of Change

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Dealing with change can be difficult. After all, humans are creatures of habit. We’ve spent years perfecting our routines and situational responses, basing them on experience and empirical evidence. When we’re in our comfort zones, we know exactly how to act and what to expect.

But then, something happens, and we’re catapulted into the unknown.

That’s been 2020, for the most part. Bringing about a host of changes, it has challenged and made us question absolutely everything we’ve learned and come to get used to so far. And the fact that most of us are still in shock is a completely natural reaction.

Today, some of us are looking forward to the day when “everything gets back to normal.” Others are scrambling to get their lives together, juggling challenges right and left. Then, some are fully ignoring the world around them, thinking that if they don’t acknowledge a problem, it must not exist.

But is it possible to thrive under stressful circumstances?

Although it may sound counterintuitive, there is something positive about finding yourself in challenging times.

From a psychological and physiological point of view, short-term exposure to cortisol (the hormone released when we’re stressed) could, in fact, lead to better mental and physical performance. And, in theory, this ties in with the idea that growth happens when we leave our comfort zones.

For example, a person who moves to a foreign country may learn to speak the language faster because the situation requires them to adapt more quickly. Similarly, a child who is placed in a more challenging class will come up with new coping mechanisms that will allow them to master the material. An athlete competing in a competition is likely to achieve better results than during practice.

If stress and discomfort really challenge us to become better, how come we all try to avoid them?

Shouldn’t we be seeking out situations where we’re out of our depths? Where’s the catch?

The thing is, short-term exposure to stress is a positive thing. The fight-or-flight mode we enter in these situations is a millennia-old pattern that has helped us survive all this time.

But when it becomes a day-to-day reality, it stops being helpful and turns into the very thing that stunts growth. It leads to health issues, causes us to lose focus at work, and harms our relationships with the people we love.

So, yes, in small amounts, stress and change can be good for us. It just might prove to be that little push we need to get to the next level.

Yet, if we really want to thrive, we have to seek out a balance between being pushed and nurtured.

Just as we don’t expect our phones to work if we haven’t charged them for days, we can’t expect our bodies and minds to perform without taking care of them either. For us to “operate” in our prime, we need to pay proper attention to self-care, both in terms of physical and emotional health.

Exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep are all parts of setting ourselves up for success. So are beneficial habits such as meditation, mindfulness, self-love practices, healthy social interactions, or hobbies.

Moreover, growth requires the correct mindset – one that allows us to look for opportunities and positives when things are far from perfect.

●  Embrace flexibility

Yes, goals are important, but so is knowing that it’s OK for them to change. Know that as you grow and mature, your aspirations might do the same. Reflect, question, and adapt as needed. That’s what evolution is all about.

●  Grab every opportunity to learn

Whether your experience is positive or negative, take a moment and think about what it has taught you. You’re likely to find that even when things don’t go as planned, you get something valuable that will serve you in the future.

●  Widen your horizons

Sometimes, the best way to improve is to get a fresh perspective on things. So, don’t be afraid to seek out chances to learn something new. Whether you like to travel, read, meet new people, or just want to take up a new hobby, know that learning always makes for a great idea.

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Embrace change, but don’t forget to check in with yourself.

Ultimately, there will always be situations in our lives that are beyond our control. More often than not, they won’t exactly be what we originally planned for.

But in the end, that doesn’t mean they can’t be good for us. As long as we learn how to accept the things we can’t influence, and focus on making the most of everything we can, we’ve got ourselves the perfect opportunity to thrive.

This guest post was authored by Sarah Kaminski

Sarah is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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