Change happens. I always wanted to create a bumper sticker with this reference to “change” to replace the one that says “@$!%& Happens!” Indeed, change does happen. To live is to experience change. Being classified as a “Change Expert,” I find myself coaching and speaking about how to deal with change healthfully. I have had my fair share of dramatic “out of the blue” change and have come out on the other side wiser, happier and healthier in many ways. But the ride? Whew. At times, the discomfort of change can feel unbearable.

Discomfort and resistance to change go hand in hand. Resisting change may cause one to become unhealthy, both in mind and body, due to an elevation of stress. And as a result, not going with the flow may even cause folks to dive off their health and fitness tracks, to gain weight, to experience lowered self-esteem, to become more stressed out about relationships — thus the spiral begins. flowersIf you are like me, you need tips and tools for navigating change so you won’t go down with the ship. So here are eight tips and tools just for you.

8 Ways to Cope Healthfully with Change:

Chill Out. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, two-thirds of doctor visits are prompted by stress-related symptoms. Practicing meditation or simply quieting your mind for at least 10 minutes each day can help lower stress hormones throughout the day. When stress is lowered, you may feel more in control in the face of change. And you will be less likely to indulge in foods and beverages that are not good for you or your waistline.

Stop Negative Talk. Feeding the “beast” of negativity is simply not productive. Think about it. Continuing to harp on the unfairness of life, how much you dislike another person or complaining, in general, will only bring you more negativity. I have no doubt about that. So as my Grandma Ruby used to say, “If you don’t have something good to say, then keep it to yourself.” I’ll take that one step farther and ask you to stop that negative self-talk too! Changing the way you think can change your life.

Go with the Flow. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Author unknown. Letting go and going with the flow is challenging, especially if we feel our survival is threatened in some way. But then again, if we let go of the oars in our rowboat of life and see where the current takes us, letting go of resistance to the flow of life, we might just be surprised by the gifts that lie at the end of what seems to be a tumultuous journey.

Keep the Faith. Getting online with the divine, as I like to say, can help you to stay balanced in an uncertain world. Louis Ferman, a University of Michigan researcher investigating the unemployed, found one fellow who had been laid off by the Studebaker corporation in 1962, another time in the 70′s by a truck manufacturer, and then later by the Chrysler corporation. He said this guy, by all accounts, should have been a basket case — but he was one of the most well-adjusted folks he had ever met. When asked his secret, the unemployed fellow replied, “I have a loving wife and go to church every Sunday.” Now that is food for thought.

Focus On You. Your fitness. Your diet. Your sleep. Your fun. In the face of change, it is more important than ever before to stick to your workout routine, eat healthy foods, get adequate sleep, and build fun into your life. By doing this, you can face change with a clear head and a healthy, fit body.

Get Present. Instead of focusing on the past or future, focus on the good things in the moment. As I walked my dog this morning, I focused on the budding flowers, the sounds of birds chirping, the feeling of my muscles as I moved silently alongside my faithful friend as we both breathed in the crisp morning air. Connecting with the essence of what is happening right now can be magical in helping you to stay in the flow of life.

Explore Creativity. How long has it been since you listened to music, visited an art gallery, squished some clay between your fingers, contemplated writing a book? In the face of change, you may find you have more free time on your hands — and what better time to reawaken the creative parts of you?

Reach Out. Change can be challenging when you are all by yourself. Join a group. Find a therapist. Volunteer to help out at a food pantry or join others who are building homes for those in need through Habitat for Humanity. Reaching out can help bring a fresh and positive perspective to your life in transition.

Living a passionate, healthy life requires you to become a “master of change.” I believe you can become that expert by making conscious and courageous decisions along your path in life. You are in control of the most important asset you have — and that asset, your most valuable possession, is YOU!

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl

How stressed out are you?