First and foremost, congratulations to all my colleagues at ICO. We've made it through another year! It wasn't easy given the added stress of the Coronavirus. But realistically, this gave me a chance to sit and reflect on the idea of sudden changes in life.
Many people like to live in their "comfort zone" and experience fear when they step outside of it. I've also heard that "change is life's only constant." Change is inevitable, but by embracing change, societies can live more freely and move forward... Sometimes though, change isn't up to us. Change happens to us. And the challenge is accepting this unwanted change.
I get it, sometimes it's hard to see the silver-lining in a situation we didn't ask for. But trust me, there are positives in this. With change comes new opportunities. Stepping outside our comfort zone builds resiliency and strength. We gain confidence and learn new skills through new experiences.
Learning to be okay with change is a process. In order to familiarize yourself with change, you must know how you react to change. Ask yourself:
How do you react to unexpected changes? Do you go with the flow or resist?
Personally, I go with the flow. I noticed this the second I came to ICO. I moved to a new country and dealt with twice the school load I had in undergrad. That being said, during this pandemic, I found it difficult to adapt to online learning. I resisted this way of learning because I’ve always been a hands-on person.
I asked myself what was it that made me so uncomfortable with stepping out of my comfort zone? (You can do the same)
I found the first step to be the most important. After my first week of panic, I started to tackle my courses one step at a time. I told myself to snap out of it. I wrote down small goals for the hour. I moved to daily goals and finally weekly goals. Before I knew it, I was studying as efficiently as I wanted to (all with the newfound luxury of spending all day in bed 😉 )
Of course, stress can express itself physically as well. I asked myself:
How is my body reacting to this change? Am I nervous?
This is one thing I still work on. Have you ever had sweaty palms and that feeling in your stomach like you want to throw up? Because same. However, by taking a moment to understand my body and the sensations I am feeling, I have learned to relax my body and mind. I’m no swami, but I can vouch for the concept of meditation. I was having a general conversation about life with an acquaintance from school, and he told me this:
“Don’t let the day control your breath; let your breath control the day.” This was a week before we left school. For some reason, that has stuck with me.
To begin meditating, try this: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds. Repeat as necessary. Deepen your connection with your nervous system, rather than fumbling at a time when your focus is required.
So… what's next? First let's take smaller steps. We need to have some successes in order to continue moving forward.
When it comes to stepping outside your comfort zone, you don’t need to dive right into the deep end. Start shallow. Lower your expectations of what you want out of this new change. Celebrate small victories.
Develop new interests. Gather information – there are always opportunities to learn during times of change, and knowledge reduces fear of the unknown. Use those passions to build a new foundation.
Maintain your social support. You don't need a lot of them but trust the handful of people who are near and dear to you. Talk to your loved ones and let them know you're going through change as a person.
I'd like to end my thoughts by letting everyone know that this is a lifelong process. Life is a journey full of changes. Throughout whatever changes there are, trust yourself to be able to grow through them and out of them as a better and stronger person.
As for my summer, I’ve been trying to meditate more often. I’m getting closer and closer to being able to meditate for a whole hour! I’ve also been going on walks every day (while maintaining social distance) to stay fit without access to my local gym. And every day, I take care of my plants, watering them often and giving them a ton of sunlight.
I hope my ICO colleagues are doing well and can benefit from this. I hope everyone is safe and healthy in their homes! I'll see you all very soon!