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The negatives and positives of change

The negatives and positives of change. Change is inevitable. When you think of change having an impact on our mental health, we typically think about loss, the end of a relationship, and other similar endings – these can be difficult to accept. But sometimes, even positive change can create stress, even when it's something we've looked forward to. So, regardless of what type of change is taking place in your life, there are coping tips you can utilise to cope and come out the other end a stronger version of yourself.

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

It's been a journey to get us through to 2021 summer, hasn't it? There is so much happening, not only in our small international bubble in Denmark, but our thoughts drift to our families and friends in our home countries. I, for one, am proud to see how the international community, along with our fellow Danes, have weathered the storms of (dare I mention its name) Covid-19. After a bumpy start with the vaccines, I'm happy to see that more people are getting their jabs in Denmark, soon we will see if we are stronger together going into winter.

But, back to the present time - and let's talk about changes affecting internationals, and dealing with those positive and negative changes. How does one cope and navigate the ups and downs of international life in Denmark?

Dealing with the positives

When most people hear the term "positive change", they automatically think happiness is associated with that term. However, that is not always true, and even significant positive changes in a person's life can cause self-doubt and anxiety.

Starting a new job

A common belief is getting a new job causes happiness and joy. While that is the case, it can also cause anxiety. Anxiety can stem from all kinds of different thoughts. Thoughts of "Is this the right job for me?" or "Am I doing everything correctly?"

How to cope: Adopt a new schedule to develop habits that will help you be successful in your new job. Having something stable to rely on -- even if it just means waking up and going for a walk before work at the same time each day or spending a few minutes reading before bed -- can make a world of difference when everything feels like it's up in the air.

Starting a new relationship or friendship

Starting a new relationship or friendship is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking – especially as you get older and stuck in your ways. You may find yourself with less time to hobbies, have more responsibilities, moving in together, cultural differences, etc. Yes, all of these things are exciting! But like any change, they can be stressful as well.

How to cope: Maintain some time me time. A little bit of space to maintain the interests that made up a more significant part of your life before you met your partner can give you much-needed stability and take a bit of the pressure off.

Dealing with the negatives

For all the good that it can bring, change can also be incredibly painful. We all experience moments that dramatically alter our lives or our futures, and later on, we might find ourselves struggling to accept our lives or our path forward. It might be a small change, maybe you've been expecting it, but it can still have a dramatic impact on our mental health.

Moving to a new country or city?

Moving can be fun and exciting in some ways, but it also can be scary and intimidating, especially if you don't know anyone. Making friends after college is difficult, but an entirely new place, culture and language even more challenging.

How to cope: There are ways to make friends in a new place, reach out to your local international clubs to start with, use them as a base to navigate your way. Once you're comfortable, reach out to local community organisations (read our feature on page 10); it's a great way to jump into friendships where you already share some common ground.

Can you control change?

In short, no. This can be frustrating, but rather than looking at the big picture, focus on what YOU can control. Regardless of what kind of change you're going through, there are a few things that can help you get through situations. If life changes are causing you stress, keep these points in mind:

  • Try to change the smaller things within the situation and figure out if they could affect the bigger picture. If they do not, just focus on more minor everyday actions.

  • Changing perspective on a situation can do wonders. Take a step back and really think about the situation, for both positive and negative changes.

  • Through all the bad that happens, celebrate the positives even if they are small.

If you're already on holiday, or about to leave for your summer houses, please take care of one enough. Remember to rest, recharge, find time not just for family and friends but for you!

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