Posted by: coachingparents | November 20, 2009


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

One of the truths about this world is that everything changes. 
The only dynamic that doesn’t change is the process of change itself. 
Coping with change always increases our level of stress.  The stress
response is designed to aid us to cope with change, be it positive or
negative change.

Some changes are predictable and allow us to adapt rather quickly
and without much stress.  Other changes just come at us unexpectedly
and dramatically increase our stress response.

Life altering changes are inevitable and normal. We know that there
is a direct correlation between how we adapt to stress and our health.
Here are some helpful strategies for handling the stress of change.

In his book, “Finding Peace,” Jean Vanier writes, “We can find the
road to hope and peace in our world if we open ourselves to change
…and break down the walls around our hearts.”  Here are 15 simple
but important tips for opening yourself to all the changes that
inevitably occur.  Perhaps some of these tips will help to open you to
adapt to change and “break down the walls around” your heart.  They
might also help you restore a sense of calm and peace of mind.

1.  Predict & plan for change when ever possible.

2.  Address changes issues before they become overwhelming.

3.  Write down and prioritize personal and work-related goals and

4.  Be sure to take time for daily physical activity.

5.  Do not skip meals, eat slowly while sitting and rarely (if ever)
resort  to eating “fast food.”

6.  Delegate household chores to other family members or hire someone
to do them.

7.  Take regular short breaks to practice abdominal breathing,
muscular relaxation, or meditation.

8.  Modify all negative thought patterns, and silence your internal
critical dialogue.  We know that what you say to yourself makes a
great difference in your stress level.

9.  Accept that change is constant and inevitable.  It is usually a
sign of growth.

10. Learn to recognize the types of life changes that increase your
stress level and what your specific stress “triggers” are.

11. Learn the warning signs of too much stress, (e.g. anxiety,
disturbed sleep patterns, irritability or unexpected mood swings.

12. Develop and maintain a strong support system of family and
friends you can turn to when major changes occur or your stress level
becomes too high.

13. Identify and practice healthy strategies for dealing with the
changes and stressors that you can influence/control.

14. Strengthen your “resilience skills,” that help you cope well with
changes that you regard as “hardship.”

15. Be compassionate and patient with yourself.  Treat yourself as
you would a loved child.  How well you deal with change/stress is not
a reflection of your character.

You probably already have a large number of skills to manage
your changes and your stress level.  If you are still alive, you have
already managed well the changes in your life before.  It is also
important to keep in mind that during times of great change and
extreme stress or crisis, you need to consider getting professional



Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life
coach.  He serves on the faculty of the International University of
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams)
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton
2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on

If you found the above column useful, feel free to share it with

Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D. has 30+ years experience as a Life Coach and
Licensed Psychologist.  He is available for coaching in any area
presented in “Practical Life Coaching” (formerly “Practical
Psychology”).  Initial coaching sessions are free.  E-mail: or


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