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Coping with the Stress of Change
All change is stressful, even pleasant change. Here are some ways you can reduce your level of stress in face of life’s changing circumstances.

As we journey through life, we confront many changes: change in work, where we live, and change in basic day-to-day routines. Any kind of life changes result in stress. Even "good" changes are stressful because they require adjustment. Adjustment means new ways of doing things and different ways of living. "New" and "different" are not necessarily bad, but they can be difficult because they are unfamiliar.

God enables us to face change with hope and confidence.

We can view change as a threat or an opportunity. The uncertainty of change often makes it a threatening experience.

What keeps you from having a positive attitude in dealing with the uncertainty of change? Perhaps

  • fear
  • lack of trust
  • loss of safety
  • skepticism
  • laziness
  • need to be in control.

What can you do to deal with your apprehensions and fears about the changes that you face in life? Here are some suggestions for coping.

1. Take control of that which you can.

Rather than passively waiting for your life to change around you, get involved in making the decisions. If you are changing your residence, participate in the search for a new home. If your income is changing, review your expenditures so you can have input into areas in which you may need to cut back. If your future goals or plans are changing, get involved in determining what those plans or goals will be. If the fear of change has affected your self-confidence, take pro-active steps to build yourself up.

2. Confront changes as a team.

Work together with your spouse and family to help make the adjustments a shared responsibility. Change can deteriorate a relationship if one person is making most of the compromises and adjustments and everyone else is making very few. Working together means that each person looks for things that he or she can do to make life easier and more fulfilling for the other. Working together to accomplish daily tasks strengthens the relationship and eases the pressure associated with change. For example, clean the house together; one can vacuum, while the other dusts. One person can wash dishes while the other makes lunches for the next day. Struggling on your own can be lonely, but struggling together can be a rewarding and bonding experience.

3. Remember God's empowering Word on change.

God promises to guide us as we face the uncertainty of change. He knows us and understands us. Through faith in Jesus, God enables us to face change with hope and confidence. We have security in Jesus Christ. We are not helpless, although we need help. We are not hopeless although we need hope. God guarantees His presence in our lives as we struggle with the uncertainty of change In fact, with God there is no uncertainty. Hear the message of God's promise in these Scripture passages as you cope with the changes in your life.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging" (Psalm 46:1-3).

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

"I lift my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore" (Psalm 121).

"Moses answered the people, 'Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still" (Exodus 14:13-14).

Dr. Colleen Hammermaster has a private counselling practice in Edmonton, Alberta.

Originally published in Canadian Lutheran, December 1998.




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