Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2012

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Change is inevitable. 

Life changes so quickly that sometimes it is hard to catch your breath, but learning to manage change can help you become happier and healthier.

Change can be unexpected (e.g., a traumatic event), or it can be brought on by a positive event (e.g., a promotion at work).

As hard as you may try to manage any change in a positive way, it can easily become confusing, overwhelming, stressful, and scary.  It can also add something new and exciting to your life.  One fact is that change is going to occur whether you manage it or not. Therefore, how you choose to manage change is important and is up to you. 

In this ever-changing world, learning to manage change in an effective way with a positive attitude and outlook will help you be more in control.

At any given time you may be experiencing one or more changes in your life.  The changes could be in your work life, personal life, or both.  It is important to know that positive as well as negative changes can all cause stress. 

Here are some tips to help manage change:

  • Know that change can cause a lot of mixed feelings – from sadness to happiness, and sometimes all at the same time. Go back to the basics and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. By doing this you will reduce your stress and anxiety which will enable you to better manage the change.
  • Recognize that little voice in your head that sometimes can be negative and bring your mood down. Reframe your negative thoughts to look at the situation differently. Write down the negative thoughts and then write down another way to look at the same situation.
  • Approach the change by breaking it down into manageable pieces.  Even if you have no control over the actual change, you do have control over the steps you take to manage it. Take a piece of paper and write down the first thing you need to focus on and then continue step by step. Depending on the change, this process could occur over hours, days, or months, but it will reduce your anxiety and give you a sense of control and success.
  • Give yourself time to accept the change. If you are making a change in your life – changing your eating habits or exercising for example – give yourself three weeks to feel comfortable with the change.  It often takes time to acclimate to a change.
  • Practice stress management and build in time for yourself.  Even a few minutes a day can reduce your stress. Practice this simple breathing exercise: sit quietly and breathe in through your nose slowly to the count of six, imagining you are filling yourself up with air from your feet to your head. Hold for six seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for the count of six. Imagine you are blowing out a candle. Repeat six times.
  • When change becomes difficult, reach out to people you trust. Talking to someone who cares about you can help you work through your feelings.

Please call the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling at (410) 685-7878, ext. 3041 or (800) 492-1964. You can also email us at jquinn@msba.org.

Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, CAC, is Program Counselor for the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : June 2012

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