Accepting Change With Grace: 6 Strategies to Learn to Embrace It
I am a very sentimental person. Like, very sentimental. I have boxes full of old entry bracelets from events I don't even remember. And stacks of old t-shirts from plays I was in when I was 10. But I just can't seem to give them up. Nope. No way.
Needless to say, being so sentimental makes change damn hard. Exciting, yes. Promising, yes. But also really dang difficult. But change is an important and necessary part of life and one that I am working to learn to embrace in a much more graceful way.
My life is full of change right now. After two magical years in Portland, Oregon. My partner and I are moving back home to Minnesota. He was accepted to a wonderful Graduate program and I have been missing my family something fierce. But this beautiful home we have created here together is not something that is easy to part with.
We've learned so much about ourselves in the last couple years. We've met amazing people, done meaningful and enjoyable things, explored this green utopia up and down, and have witnessed what a world of acceptance and love looks like. I am forever grateful to Oregon.
But the change is happening...and soon. I've been suffering from my usual flashes of sentimentality. Sudden thoughts of, "Is this the last time I will be here or do this?!?" Frantic planning to see and catch up with everyone I've met here. Feelings of regret for things I didn't yet get to do. But I am determined to work through these in a productive way...or at least a way that makes me feel a little more graceful and less gut-wrenching about it!
I'm sure I'm not the only person who struggles with big change. It can be scary...terrifying really! And leaving familiarity behind is never an easy task. So, I've put together 6 strategies to help embrace the new with grace. They've been working wonders for me so far, and I hope they do something positive for you, too!
1) Utilize a Creative Outlet
Sometimes the emotions of change get all bottled up in our heads and make things seem worse than they are. Try getting those feelings out in a productive way...with a creative outlet of your choice.
I am a HUGE fan of journaling. I've done it nearly every day since I was 13 and I have found myself writing much more lately. Getting the thoughts out of my head and on paper makes me feel safe and secure...like they aren't going anywhere and I can relax.
I've also been writing poetry about the feelings I am encountering. I love to rhyme, that's just my own personal style, but putting the words together in a new and beautiful way really helps me feel a sense of closure and validation.
What creative outlet should you use? The options are limitless! Painting, crafting, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, learning a new skill, making a podcast. What speaks to you?
2) Take Some Action
Now, I'm definitely no exercise fanatic...you'd have to seriously pay me to run...but I have witness the value in getting out and moving regularly. This doesn't have to be intense exercise, simply a walk around the neighborhood or through the park can do you wonders.
Getting moving helps to fight that uncomfortable feeling of sitting still when you are facing something troubling. Sitting on the couch when there is so much on your mind is a recipe for a mental breakdown. Fight the sadness and fear by moving your body.
Take a hike in the woods, grab a friend and stroll the streets of your favorite neighborhood, take a trip to the beach and walk along the water. I find that when I'm moving, my thoughts become much less jumbled and I find some much needed clarity and peace within the chaos.
3) Make a Closure Bucket List
If the big change you are facing involves leaving a place you have been for quite some time, it can be even more difficult. Leaving your comfort zone is one thing, but thinking of all the things you won't be able to experience anymore sure does make one uneasy.
In my case, I've made a closure bucket list. A list of non-negotiable things that I will do before I leave. A stop at my favorite restaurant, a trip to my favorite city on the coast, a lunch with a close friend. What are your non-negotiables?
Don't feel sad. By doing some of your favorite things one last time, you can offer yourself some closure in knowing that they are the last, instead of simply wondering if they will be. Focus on the joy they bring you and your gratitude for the experience. (And visit strategy 5 as well!)
4) Take Some Photos
This strategy is one of the best for myself. I take SO many photos when I am in the midst of change. The amount of photos I have of old apartments both styled, and empty, is embarrassing. But I treasure them. They give me a glimpse back into the life I lived there and offer me the sentimental value I need without taking up any space.
Take photos of your living space, take photos of your favorite places around town or selfies with your best friends. Even after the change happens, you will always have that little piece of love to look back on and be grateful for.
Tip: I find that I am much more likely to look back on a photo if it has people in it. Landscape shots are great for some things, but when it comes to memories, it's the people that matter. Don't be afraid to take a selfie in front of your fav coffee shop...it will mean much more to you later!
5) Get Some Perspective
This is a big one. Okay, so the change is happening. It is going to happen whether you like it or not, whether you feel happy or feel sad...so why feel sad? I've been forcing some much needed perspective on myself during this period of change and it has been a lifesaver!
Even if this seems like the last time you will be somewhere or do something, is that really the truth? I know this may be the last trip I take to the coast right now, but probably not forever. I know I'll be back to enjoy the coast and see my favorite spots of Oregon again...so why make it such a pity party?!
Is it sad? Yes. Is it sentimental AF? Yes. But is it really the last time? Probably not. Even if it is, by focusing on how grateful you are to have experienced what you did, you can release a great deal of the sadness and see the good. This has truly helped me release some of the negative feelings and embrace change with a happy face.
6) Enjoy the Now
Here's another little perspective piece. See the beauty in the now. There is plenty to worry about and obsess about and fret over in the past and the future...but all of that is taking away from your ability to appreciate what you are doing and where you are right now.
As I write this, I am still in my cozy little apartment in Oregon, seeing the green of the vegetation and smelling the delicious PNW coffee in my cup. Nothing has changed yet. It may be changing soon, but that doesn't mean I should take this perfectly great moment for granted.
I like to tell myself, "All is well in this moment."
It brings me peace to step back into the now and realize that the worry and trouble is all in my head. And that if I choose to, I can accept this change with grace. I can head into this new chapter of life with a head full of memories and a heart full of hope...gracefully.
With great enthusiasm for change,