When I was a little girl, we had a painting in the entryway. Every day I came home from school, put my backpack on the table beneath the painting and proceed to the kitchen for a snack. I didn’t love the painting but it was familiar. It was constant, unchanging. The painting was a landscape with lavender hues of the sky. It reminded me of “my happy place.” My happy place is where we summered in the northern peninsula of Michigan. Those summer vacations were another constant in my life. We went every year from the time I was born. We even had the same campsite, in the same camper and with the same family friends for three weeks. Anyway, one day I came home from school and the painting was gone! I went into panic mode. For a moment I thought it was stolen. I called my mother (at work no less) sobbing. Since burglars rarely break into homes and only take art of little to no value we surmised that the painting wasn’t stolen but I wasn’t consoled.
Change is hard. Unexpected change is unexpectedly difficult. Humans weren’t built for massive change, particularly one on top of another. The human body can experience a change like stress. Even positive life changes like having a baby or getting married are stressful on the body. Repeated change or a permanent change to the way one experiences life can make it difficult to function, think empty nesters or divorce. There is a behavioral health diagnosis that reflects the adverse impact of change on our wellbeing. The world experienced repeated significant changes last year. For many, the way we moved through the day, through life changed. Many people experienced significant loss, their lives will never be the same.
There is no “how to” for surviving the changes of 2020. Even now as we get back to “normal,” that too is a change. Significant grief and loss require different tools and behavioral health therapy can be a helpful way to adjust to those life-altering changes. But some strategies can get us through the day-to-day changes, such as returning to work at the office after a year of work from home, having four kids home for nine weeks straight, or even the sudden disappearance of your favorite painting.
Have a North Star
Polaris, also known as the North Star, essentially shows no movement. The Earth moves but the North Star is unmovable. We all need one immovable object in life. Someone or something that remains stable, constant, reliable.
Find the Silver Lining
I know it sounds trite but it is also true. Finding the silver lining can bring comfort. One of the most significant determinants of how change impacts us is how we perceive that change. So focusing on something positive that comes from the change can help us adjust.
Keep it real
While it is important to find the silver lining, it’s also important to acknowledge change is hard. But we can do hard things. We have all survived change. When we begin to doubt our ability to make it through, we need only look back on the last change. My grandmother used to say “this too shall pass” an acknowledgment that what you’re going through is difficult, but it isn’t forever.
Just about the time we get in the routine of the summer months, it will be fall and all the changes that season brings. So, enjoy these long summer days, change will be here before we know it!