“The changes we dread most may contain our salvation.”
– Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder
Change gets a bad rap. But change can be good!
As humans, we like our routine. The expected feels “safe.” Many struggle with adjustment to change. The DSM even has a mental health diagnosis of “adjustment disorder” that can involve both anxiety and sadness in response to change and transition in life.
Why is change so hard? Well, anything experienced as different imposes a stress on our organism. Just think, when driving somewhere new, doesn’t it always feel like the way there takes longer than the way home? It’s not that we travel less miles. But on the way there, our brain is absorbing and assimilating all the novelty. It takes more energy, more thought. This results in a stressor on our brain and body. Even if this “somewhere new” is a fun place, the act of incorporating all the new is a stressor. The result is a drain of energy. This doesn’t always register as a good feeling. Often, the brain misinterprets “new” as “bad.” The human brain is very energy efficient. It likes for things to be streamlined, automated, require the least amount of energy. Interpreting and adjusting to new things requires a higher output of energy than normal. And the brain gets cranky.
Often, the brain misinterprets “new” as “bad.”
However, understand the occasional stress of change can be beneficial. This can be seen on the physical body in fitness. When we workout, we stress our bodies and take them out of their comfort zone. Interval training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the latest trend that combines periods of high intensity training with periods of rest. We are essentially taking our bodies out of their comfort zone so they have to adjust to become more efficient. This method of “stressing” the body has been shown to be effective at increasing strength and fitness.
The human body is amazing. Both physically and mentally we are able to make adjustments to bring us back to a level of comfort. By training our body and mind the right way, these adjustments will enhance our physical well-being, make us more efficient, stronger and more resilient.
Understand the occasional stress of change can be beneficial to the mind and body.
Not all change is bad. Change can be good. In fact, repetitive motion can wear down joints causing weakness. In a similar fashion, repetitive use can wear down clothes causing dullness. Moreover, repetitive actions dull the mind. Change is important. Sometimes change is even exciting! Change might involve a job promotion, a new love, a step towards a dream.
When we desire a goal, it’s important to remember that such an outcome will require more energy. It’s also important to remember not to label the increased demand for energy as “bad.” It’s important to remember that some things are worth working for.
On this note of change, Wellness Within is changing locations. The yoga-informed psychotherapy resource is moving to St. Charles. You can get a sneak peak of the new location here.