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This year has brought changes to the way we interact, how we travel, and even to how we move about in our shared physical spaces.

But change can hit us personally in small moments, too. Imagine me, standing in aisle 24 at Home Depot with employee Jose, asking him for help with a project. When Jose informed me that what I needed wasn’t an option, I cried. As I stood there crying in aisle 24 I asked him, “Well, what am I going to do?” I just wanted someone to take care of this. Alas, it was only Jose and me — a single woman and only child, who had just lost her father — trying to deal with the changes and decisions only I could make.

We will all lose loved ones or our jobs. We all have to deal with stuff that makes us uncomfortable or mourn the loss of being able to leave the house without a mask. So what can we do when we are in the aisle 24s of life?

“We have these conflict sensors in our brains, and when something changes we think of it as making a mistake. That is how our brains read it neurologically,” explains Laura Wagner, life coach and licensed therapist. “Our brain is really wired to go to that place of pushing something away.”

Knowing this thing that our brain does to us, it seems that giving ourselves and each other a little grace is fitting as a start. But it might also be a new beginning. “Change is the evidence of transformation and offers opportunities to grow into a greater version of self,” says Glynita Bell, founder of Heart 2 Heart Wellness Center in New Albany, Indiana.

Pausing to check your thoughts is one step to adjust to change, say our experts. “Identify the negative thought as it enters your mind. Recognize it is a function of anxiety, not fact,” says Glynita, a licensed social worker. “Then consider the evidence and challenge the accuracy of your thoughts. Ask yourself what’s more likely to be true.”

This is what Laura calls fact checking yourself and what they both would call cognitive behavior therapy. Laura also adds to “look at things from a curious point of view versus resistant.” Ask yourself: What is happening here? What is scaring me? What can we learn here? She also suggests when you start to think about the things that you feel you aren’t allowed to do or can’t do right now, change the question from “Why can’t I?” to “How can I?” And “What is the opportunity for me?”

Glynita suggests a similar flip. “Rather than thinking ‘Ugh, I hate this,’ try swapping that thought for ‘this is making me feel nervous, but it’s normal to feel nervous right now.’ Feeling nervous does not mean things will be negative, it’s just a feeling.”


• Instead of rushing in the morning to get off, consider making a routine moment to access your gratitude, Glynita says. “When you can ritualize it and really start your day with gratitude and affirmations, it starts to become a part of your own internal language to yourself.” She says this is a language we can tap back into when we start to get anxious about change or its effects.

• Move your body. “Get out of your head and get into your body,” Laura says. “Movement of your body can help your mind start to work things out.”

• Check in with your senses, Laura says. This brings you back to the present.

P.S. Take a pandemic pause and enjoy the little things you may have once rushed through.

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