Change is stress and stress is agony, and premature death, too if you don’t take care of yourself properly. Multiple studies prove that stress can be extremely detrimental to your physical and, above all else, mental health. Depression and anxiety are the most common problems developed by overstressed people, but psychotic breaks and even suicide aren’t uncommon.
If you want to avoid these problems when coping with a significant change in life, you need to prepare and manage your stress from the beginning. Preventative measures are the most effective protection for your mental health.
1. Learn some breathing exercises
Research indicates that breathing exercises can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. The effect they produce is immediate. Therefore you can use them in extreme situations when you are feeling overwhelmed. This practice can help prevent or manage panic and anxiety attacks.
Master basic yogic breathing techniques to use the power of breathing exercises for achieving long-term mental health benefits. Practice them daily to help keep your cortisol levels down.
2. Stick to the familiar
When change is the main stress-inducing element you are facing, you need to make an effort to minimize it. You might not be able to do anything about major factors, like your new environment or situation. However, you should try to maintain your routine.
If the change you are dealing with is a change in environment, especially an extreme one, like moving to another country, it’s essential that you surround yourself with familiar things. This means not only taking precious items to fill your new home with but also connecting with your old life with the help of tech.
YouTube channels of local vloggers will be a great help in this case. You can subscribe to someone who regularly posts videos of your old home city, so you don’t feel completely disconnected from it.
If the country you moved to is one of those who censor the Internet, use a guide for unblocking YouTube. It will allow you to overcome any geo-blocks and bans and watch any kind of soothing videos you like.
This will also allow you to upload videos to your own channel if you have it. If not, consider starting one as putting your experiences into words and sharing them with someone is another good method of dealing with the stress of change. Journaling has long been one of the most effective stress management practices (Michigan State University).
3. Learn meditation
Breathing exercises are good for helping you relax and get through a difficult moment. However, meditation has more long-term mental health benefits, as is proven by dozens of studies. Mindfulness meditation, in particular, can help fight depression and anxiety, which come with the change.
Daily practice of mindfulness meditation does not only help you relieve stress and reduce risks to your mental health. It enables you to understand yourself and your feelings better. Most importantly, this practice develops a habit not to make rushed decisions and judgments. It also teaches you to enjoy and appreciate moments of happiness.
4. Take control of the change
Feeling helpless in the face of your changing circumstances is the biggest source of change-related problems. Therefore, the most effective way to cope with the situation is to gain some control back.
Become an active participant of the change so you can see it as an opportunity for improvement instead of a whirlwind of doom.
5. Talk to someone
Did you know that talking is one of the most effective stress relief techniques? Note that it’s not ‘talking to a therapist’ but simply ‘talking.’ As one of the main stressors that come with change is that you often have to face it alone, this particular technique becomes even more important.
Not having an established support network or disconnecting from it are major problems that are hard to solve when you are already dealing with some big change. However, it will be best if you set aside some time in your daily schedule and dedicate it to making new social connections.
If you already have trusted people in your life, you should maintain contact with your them using social media and video calls when personal meetings are impossible. As to the new people to talk to, consider joining some club or even a social media community.
Look for support groups of people who are going through similar changes. They are in the best position to understand you and can offer the support you need because they know exactly how you feel.
Please note, while these tips will help manage your stress levels regardless of the situation, you shouldn’t rely on them only if you feel your mental health slipping. In case your condition gets severe, talking to a professional is a must. At the least, consider using online therapy services like Talkspace.