‘A change is as good as a rest’, as the old saying goes. But, when changes are suddenly thrust upon you, it’s quite a different story.
The beginning of 2021 came with big changes; the new lockdown announcement meaning the plans a lot of us had for our Early Years returning to their setting were completely disrupted after just one day. The stress that this can cause can’t be ignored, with copious amounts of preparation now going to waste, and the immediate need for new plans putting so much pressure on EY practitioners.
So, how do you cope with change?
Studies have shown that long-term stress can impact your body and immune system, making you more susceptible to stomach ulcers, heart disease and viral infections. When you can’t remove the cause of the stress, focus on taking care of yourself and making sure your body has the nutrition it needs to keep you as healthy as possible. Make sure you eat your veggies to ensure you have all the vitamins needed (as well as setting an excellent example for your children!) and focus on meals you enjoy that will fill you up and provide the energy you need, while avoiding anything too spicy, acidic or high in fat, to reduce the physical effects of stress as much as possible.
Evaluating your situation can help you take stock and avoid becoming overwhelmed. It’s very easy to only see the bad things happening and panic but, in the midst of change, taking regular time to think through both the good and bad elements could really help your mood. While it may not reduce the difficulties of changing to another lockdown, thinking through (or even writing down) what is happening around you can help remind you of the friends, support networks and joyful moments still in your life. Making sure you focus on the good and not just the bad can reduce stress and help you feel less overwhelmed.
Change will also make you tired, especially in the current situation when you’ve done work already just to have your plans become redundant almost overnight. If you’re feeling weary, allow space for that. Try to accept that physical, mental and emotional fatigue are all part of stressful situations and, sometimes, powering through may be less productive than you think. While it can be hard to switch your brain off, try to get as much sleep as you can so you don’t burn out.
Finally, don’t be afraid to say that you’re struggling. While it may not change anything externally, just talking with others about finding change difficult can lift your mood, and knowing that others are in the same boat will ensure you don’t feel like you’re dealing with this alone.