How to Adjust to New Normals

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Fact: life is constantly throwing us curveballs.

There’s always gonna be something, oftentimes unexpected, that will come along and shake things up in some way. Also fact: The way we choose to deal with the curveballs is entirely up to us. 

Whether it’s hormonal changes like menopause or adrenal fatigue, emotional changes like a break-up or becoming an empty-nester, or physical changes like a sprained ankle, a bum knee or even an unwanted diagnosis, the more resilient we are, the easier it will be to adjust to new normals - whether they’re temporary or permanent. The more we cultivate resilience the faster we can bounce back from those inevitable curveballs and return to the business of living our lives. I’m not saying you have to like the change, but learning to acknowledge it, grieve or heal as long as is necessary and not allow it completely derail you is part of being resilient.

We’re adaptable by nature but our pesky little “lizard brain” (aka the critical naysayer voice in our minds) likes to keep things status quo (because it’s “safer”) and tell us that we suck at change. The lizard brain (also known as the reptilian brain) is one of the oldest parts of the brain and has remained virtually the same for about 100 million years. It’s in charge of our survival; for our flight, fight or freeze responses, and most of all – fear.   You’d think after all the evolving we’ve done over the last several million of years that our lizard brains might have evolved as well but nope. Unlike other parts of our brain, the reptilian brain has remained roughly the same. The difference is that while it used to keep us safe from real or imminent danger, now it can be triggered by something as innocuous as a Facebook post. But I digress….

How do we cultivate resilience? First off it’s about understanding and making peace with the fact that change is part of the deal. Stop telling yourself that you “don’t do well with change” or that you “hate” change. This will not help you be resilient when change occurs! Flip that tired old story into something that feels better and is just as believable like “I’m willing to get better at going with the flow when change occurs” or “everything may be changing but I will be OK.” Or try my favorite go-with-the-flow mantra which is “this could be happening for me, not to me, even if I don’t yet know why.” 

Mindset is a crucial component to resiliency.

Regarding change as the gateway to opportunity, wisdom and growth instead of something that’s just conspiring to F you up might be difficult at first, but learning to reframe a situation is a great tool for cultivating resiliency. Steer yourself towards an attitude of flexibility and compromise instead of hopeless and “woe is me.”

Another way to cultivate resilience is to prioritize self care. Yup - there are those wellness buzzwords again: Self care. (Sorry/not sorry.) Self care is imperative in terms of cultivating resilience because it can help us adjust more quickly to “new normals.” Here are some of my top self care tips for cultivating resilience:

Commit to better nutrition in the form of adding in 20-30% more fruits and vegetables to your diet on a daily basis. In nutrition school we referred to this as “crowding out” the foods that are less nutritious by loading your plate with whole foods like leafy greens and other plants that are anti-inflammatory and good for all your parts. There are about a billion great ideas out there for getting more veggies into your life. Looking for a place to start? Try my recipe for kale chips. They’re a real crowd pleaser.

Find some way to unplug/meditate/get quiet every day  - even for just 15 minutes. As Anne Lamott says, “almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, even you.” Any mindfulness practice that helps you develop your sense of awareness, stay open and turn down that negative chatter will ultimately help you cultivate resilience. For extra credit try practicing mindfulness in nature which can further help lower your cortisol and chill you out. 

Move your body every day. Even simply walking for 30 minutes is good. That said, if you can find some form of movement that’s slightly more challenging and involves mobility, flexibility, aerobic activity and/or weight training that’s even better. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone!

Self-observation in the form of working with a therapist or a life coach or even writing in your journal can help you notice and release the negative thoughts and limiting beliefs that are keeping you from being more resilient and flexible.

Community is also key in helping us stay resilient. When adversity finds you, call the friends or family members who are going to empathize and help you look at the bright side vs. the ones who are going to tell you to start stockpiling for the zombie apocalypse. 

And speaking of the bright side, consciously seek out positivity. Go on a news fast and/or start intentionally looking for sources of good news. There are a ton of them out there! I like Good News Network and Huff Post Good News. And y’know those feel-good quotes that you stumble on and wonder when to use? Maybe now is that time.

Volunteering for an organization that has the greater mission of helping others is a fabulous perspective shaker and helps bring more meaning to your life. Deeper meaning can also help cultivate resilience.

And finally, reminding yourself that it’s OK to not have all the answers can also be a way of getting to greater resilience. Looking to your version of God or a higher power can often help you weather a storm. Some things take time to fully reveal themselves and having a chat with the Universe can be just what is needed to keep you going.