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Having strategies can help you cope when change comes along

August 01, 1997

"Change is good ... you do it!" is an indication of the way many of us deal with change - we would rather it happen to someone else.

Many of us tend to resist change even though we would know it is good for us. We are comfortable with the known and uncomfortable with the unknown.

Some people, however, seek change and welcome its challenges. They have discovered some strategies that make it easier to cope with change.

Following are some tips to help you cope with change. They may seem basic, but are vitally important in helping you to make change a more positive experience.

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* Develop support relationships at work and home. People with friends on whom they can rely during stressful times experience fewer negative effects of the stress change can bring. They also remain healthier, are more successful and live longer.

* Examine your work environment. If possible, change what you don't like about your work environment or accept what you can't change. If you can do neither, then it's time for a big change - a change of jobs. When beginning a new job, re-examine the old. What worked that you would like to take to a new job? What should be left behind?

* Take care of yourself. Eat a balanced diet, exercise and get enough rest. Take time to relax with friends and family. Enjoy your hobbies. Listen to your body. If you don't think these suggestions are important, look around at others who aren't using them. You'll soon discover just how important these basic wellness tips are.

* Build self-esteem. There is only one you. You have special talents and interests. List what you like about yourself and note your special talents. Also list what you appreciate about family and friends. Tell them and make them feel good, too.

* Be open and flexible. Knowing that change can happen at any time helps you accept it and adjust when it occurs. Most people are eager to settle into comfortable routines. Realize that your present routine may only be temporary.

* Keep your "sunny side" up. Like the song says "accent the positive and eliminate the negative, keep on the sunny side of life." A positive attitude helps you feel good about yourself, goes a long way toward improving your health and helps you deal with changes that come along.

* Take control of your life. What can you do now that will help you cope with the changes in your life? Make a list of options. What are the positive and negative outcomes of each choice? Practice finding the good in each of life's changes. It's not what happens to you that causes you to be happy or unhappy - it's how you react to what happens. Your reaction governs the outcome. Take charge of your thoughts and actions.

Use resources available to you. Resources include self-help publications, support groups, friends, loving family members, special talents, good health, time and a positive attitude.

All of these tips and more can help when you are facing a change. Learn to use them.

Maryland Cooperative Extension Service's programs are open to all citizens without regard to race, color, sex, disability, age, religion or national origin.

Lynn F. Little is an extension educator, family and consumer sciences, for University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service.

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