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Change is Coming: How to Cope with the New

“Change is good”
“Change is inevitable”
“Change is necessary”
“Change of heart” “Change of pace” “Change of scene”
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”

I could list dozens of idioms in our lexicon that tell us how important change is. “We should expect it, we should like it, and we should roll with it,” is what they seem to boil down to.
As someone who loves a schedule, a list, and some structure, change is something that gets a side-eye from me. Nine times out of ten, the changes that pass through my life end up working out for the better, I just haven’t been able to get through my head that I don’t have to panic every time it comes. (I love the comfort that comes with knowing what is down the road and what to expect).

However, change doesn’t always need to be tied to panic and discomfort; change can sometimes bring unexpected happiness. It might be just what we’re needing without even knowing it.

The transition from grade school to high school; the transition from high school to college; the transition from college to “real life,” starting a new job. These changes are inevitable and necessary. And I survived them all. Who knew? I certainly didn’t at the time.
I was nervous each time I had to adapt, adjust, and grow comfortable with my new reality. Often when something new and different came along, I would brace myself for disaster (because I am wired that way!). Sometimes I would go in with low expectations so that I wouldn’t be disappointed or overwhelmed. And that is not great either.

The thing is, it didn’t matter whether I was prepared or disappointed, excited or scared.
Change was a’comin anyway.
What mattered was how I responded and reacted to these changes.

If I was nervous or scared, did I react as the situation deserved, or did I panic and shut down? If I was excited or prepared, did I get my hopes up too high? There is a balance to be found in all of this, and it seems that it’s something that will always be in flux.
Some helpful ways to cope with change are to engage in some mindfulness practices.
One specific tool is to utilize a deep breathing exercise when we find the panic and anxiety too much to manage. Simply find a comfortable space, take a few deep breaths, and follow a simple breathing pattern focused around breathing for 4 second intervals. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and hold the breath for 4 seconds. Repeat these four times through, and your brain and body will thank you!
Another helpful tool is to engage in some imagery, picturing what things in your life will remain constant. When change is on the horizon, it can be easy to get caught up in all the things that will be new and different, but many cornerstones and important aspects of life remain the same. Feeling grounded in what is and will continue to be can help us feel that the changes are less overwhelming.
So, don’t fear change; try to prepare for it.
Do what you can to be ready, and let life happen as it must.

Change is making its way to Sanctuary. We are constantly growing, and with that must come change. Sanctuary went from a small office in Douglassville to the house we are in now, many years ago. Then we added a second site in Collegeville. Our Collegeville location will soon make that same transition from a small office to a new house in Audubon.
And while this is a big change, it is one we are so ready for. We are expanding our hours as well as our space. We are taking on new clients and clinicians. We must rise to the challenge and face these changes with open arms, because they are necessary, and they are good. Good for us and good for you, as we welcome a new chapter in the Sanctuary story.

6 Hacks to Survive the Holidays (And Your Family)

 
 
Let’s face it – as much as we love our families and look forward to seeing them over the holidays, it can be stressful to balance different households with different views, beliefs, and expectations. I’ve compiled a list of ways to navigate holidays with families whether you’re traveling to multiple households or spending long periods of time at one.
 
 

1. If you need it, reserve some alone time. Know ahead of time if you’ll have an opportunity to maybe take a walk around the block or take a quick nap. Spending lots of time conversing with lots of people can be exhausting (I’m lookin’ at you introverts!). That being said, it’s likely important to spend a majority of your time with family, but know when you need a few minutes to yourself to “re-charge.”

2. Identify your support system ahead of time. Whether it be a partner, parent, friend – having someone that you can turn to if you become overwhelmed is essential. This could even be as simple as knowing which friend you will send a text message to if you need to vent.

3. Don’t overdo it & keep appropriate boundaries. If you are going to your mother-in-laws home and know that after about the four-hour mark, conversations tend to turn to uncomfortable topics – politics, religion – maybe it makes sense to set the boundary that you will stay for that amount of time, but no longer. We all have a threshold for managing uncomfortable conversations with family members and it’s important to not avoid them at all costs, but it also doesn’t mean you need to subject yourself to them every time.

4. Maintaining self-care that you know works for you. Not all self-care activities will always be do-able at any given time. We don’t always have access to a gym or a bubble bath. Having a handful of self-care activities that can be easily done or don’t take much time can be essential for getting through the holidays when you don’t have the option to set a boundary for how long you will be somewhere. Some ideas include meditation (Headspace is a great app for this!), taking a walk outside, reading, listening to music, and the list goes on. Just make sure what you choose is accessible.

5. Try not to get caught up in the consumerism. When the focus turns to “I didn’t get Sally a gift” or “why has Ted not told me what size shoe my niece wears??” things can get stressful REAL quick. When gifts are an expectation that your family holds, try getting your shopping done early or suggest drawing names to reduce the amount of shopping needed. This allows you to take in the true magic of the season and to enjoy the time you do get to spend with family.

6. Set a goal. This year I want to take more time to enjoy conversation. This year I want to make it a point to sit down with my mother and have an uninterrupted talk. This year I want to bake a pie from scratch with my sister. This year I want to start a new tradition/ritual with my family. Setting a goal for the holidays can keep you focused on something fun or important to you. It can also create excitement when you think about accomplishing that goal. Remember to remain open to the fact that sometimes things do not work out exactly as you would like and that’s ok. Setting the intention can be just as powerful as actually completing it exactly as imagined.
 
 
Even holidays with the closest and most considerate of families can feel overwhelming at times. It’s important to listen to your mind and body in the process and try to give it what it needs. You’ll enjoy time with family much more if you feel centered and ready to converse. Which of these ideas will you try to incorporate this year during the holidays?

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