Change is something we experience everyday whether we are aware of it or not. On a simple level the bus driver is different this morning or the toll booth operator is on holiday. Maybe our favorite brand of something is sold out and we have to choose a replacement this week. Or maybe our internet connection is down for maintenance (again!) and we have to find another way to communicate.
On a broader level we often make decisions to change something fundamental in our life. It might be your job, a change of abode, breaking up or forming a relationship, and (of course) starting a new fitness program to change your health and well being. These are major changes and can cause a lot of negative stress in our lives.
How we handle change can have a massive impact on our health and our relationships. These tips below may not help you to LOVE change, they will help ease the ride by reminding you to take care of your most important asset along the way - YOU!
Tip 1: When in doubt, go slow and get your bearings before moving on. If you ever found yourself lost while on the way to someplace else then the best thing to do is to slow down and take a look at your surroundings. This is the same for life - once you have a pretty good idea of where you are, it will be much easier to see what direction you need to go in next.
Tip 2: Be grateful for the new opportunities and possibilities that change brings. Change can sometimes bring new lessons and new connections that can help us further down the road, and these things can ultimately make us a healthier, happier human being.
There is also a lot of wisdom in the saying that "what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger". While this not always true (repeat stair running is a good example) the tough times in our lives can you a more rounded and balanced person, and might allow you to appreciate the not-so-tough times even more!
Tip 3: Take time for yourself to re-establish your personal foundations. Reconnect with yourself and with your goals and desires. Sometimes activities that take the focus off of the everyday like taking a walk, reading a book, or listening to music help us to reconnect with what is important to us and give us a certain calmness and strength that helps us keep going.
Personally we find fitness training is a great way to get away from it all and find some "me time" in our day. A walk, run, cycle or gym session can be an almost "meditative" experience that can clear away negative thoughts and bring some focus back into your day. This is true both mentally and physically, because studies have shown that after exercising people have greater mental clarity and make better decisions. So the next time things are becoming over-whelming or you feel bogged down try taking some time out for fitness.
Tip 4: Allow some room for mistakes. So you chose the wrong direction, or made a mistake, now what? You can be angry with yourself but that might not get you back on track. The best thing to do is acknowledge your mistake and turn around to try something else. Beating yourself up may only slow you down and make you feel bad about yourself as well. Most of the time we allow room for children to make mistakes as they grow and learn - so why not do this with ourselves.
People often beat themselves up over missing a training session or having a "bad" meal or snack. Whilst it's not helpful to miss training or eat poorly, it's also not the end of the world and is certainly no reason to stop altogether. Try to let it go, and get back on track as soon as possible. Also, see if you can determine the reasons for why you had a bad patch, and then organize things so they don't happen again!
Tip 5: Make lists of things you need to do as you think of them - keep a notebook with you. One of the reasons change sends us into a tailspin is that we lose control of our regular schedule. We can be afraid of not being able to do everything we want to do. While being organized is not the only method of dealing with change; it can help you remember what is essential that needs to be done like paying the bills or doing the washing.
Similarly, stick to a training plan and keep a track of how everything is going. We can often forget what is important when it comes to fitness or eating well, so if we have a plan that takes care of itself it will ensure you keep right on track and wont be distracted by the things that inevitably try to disrupt us.
Tip 6: Stop and breathe when you feel overwhelmed, nervous or unsure, and know these feelings are absolutely normal. It's hard-wired into our biochemistry to be concerned or worried about changes to the environment, because it's what helped us stay on guard from the physical threats we used to experience - tigers, lions, famine, etc!. We're often concerned about change and the unknown but it is perfectly normal to have feelings of fear and uncertainty. The trick is how you manage this stress and ensure it doesn't becoming overwhelming or out of control.
Tip 7: Give yourself several weeks to get used to your new situation, because it can take some time to get fully acquainted with new surroundings. If it is a new job, use the first few months to learn all there is to know about how to do your job on a basic level. If after the first three months you see that you need to make changes then you will have all of the information you need.
It's the same with fitness - start out slow and get used to the movements and activities you are doing. It may take some time for it to become natural or even enjoyable, but if you give it some time you'll be surprised what can be achieved!
Tip 8: Keep a positive attitude and find something to be happy about everyday - a new experience or discovery; even something as simple as the color of a wall or a leaf on a tree. Being joyful or stopping to smell the roses helps us to slow down and in the slowing down we can see that we are where we are supposed to be in the process of change.
If you are new to fitness, or even an old hand, look for the small improvements at every training session. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it does take time for your fitness program to work it's magic! You need to focus on what you can control - which is the here and now of the training you are doing right now, and let the end results take care of themselves.
For a short but excellent read on the subject of change try "Who Moved My Cheese ?" by Spencer Johnson.
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