Our lives are full of change. Sometimes a change is small and personal. Sometimes it is large and has tremendous impact on our society. Some changes feel positive and full of hope, while others feel difficult and filled with dread.
Regardless of how a change is perceived, all changes carry a level of stress. A death in the family is almost always stressful, but so is a happy event, like a wedding or buying a new home.
Regardless of the cause, it’s important first to acknowledge that stress, then step back and remind yourself to be kind and gentle with yourself and those around you. From there, start to intentionally put to use any coping tools that have proven helpful in the past and consider some new ways of coping. Keep in mind that coping skills are very individual and what works well for you in one situation may not work well in another.
Below are some positive coping strategies, starting with how we stay informed of current events. There are endless ways to follow the news 24 hours a day. And the news is not always pleasant. Crimes and political issues reported on TV, radio, and online can be upsetting, and some people find it hard to sleep after hearing the news. Here are some things to consider:
- It’s possible to have a daily time either to watch the news or listen to a news program on the radio. Some people use their commutes for this.
- Some have a set amount of time to spend reading the newspaper and/or their favorite news magazine, perhaps over a cup of coffee or tea.
- Think about devoting available time to activities such as visiting with a friend, taking a walk, or focusing on a favorite hobby.
- Finally, be mindful of how you spend the closing hours of your day. Rather than the news, some people turn on soothing music, read a book, or cuddle with a partner, a pet, or a friendly teddy bear while watching a sitcom. You can take a few moments to reflect on the blessings of your life.
Each day, take some time to engage in an activity that helps you completely focus on one thing in the current moment. Have a variety of ways to do that, which may include:
- A routine yoga class, ideally at a local recreation center where you can also experience community with others.
- A regular time each day to practice meditation, centering prayer, or other mindfulness practice.
- Working on a jigsaw puzzle.
- Engaging in a creative activity such as painting, writing, or playing the piano.
- Going to a movie or a play where, for a couple hours, you can be fully absorbed in another time and place.
Be mindful of creating time to be with others every day. You could take a walk and enjoy lunch with a special friend. At other times you may enjoy having a small gathering of friends at your home. Many people no longer have the energy to host a dinner party, but they’ve discovered their friends love coming over for a potluck brunch. The important thing is to spend time with others regularly to build a nice network of care and support.
Sometimes the changes in our lives become overwhelming. If you find yourself struggling with some of the practicalities of life, or are experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or anger, loss of energy and motivation, changes in eating and/or sleeping patterns, please contact JFS Senior Solutions at 303.597.5000 to see if our care management or counseling services could be a special support to you.
—By Jennie Creasey, LCSW, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center Operations Manager, and Dee Trasen, MSW, LCSW, Jay and Rose Phillips Senior Solutions Center Clinician
Jennie Creasey serves as the JFS Senior Solutions operations manager. She is responsible for managing day-to-day operations and supervising the care managers, program coordinators, therapists, and retired professional volunteers. She recently celebrated her 17th anniversary with JFS.
Dee Trasen is a licensed clinical social worker with more than 25 years of clinical experience. At Jewish Family Service, she specializes in work with older adults who are dealing with depression, anxiety, family conflict, and issues of loss. She also works with family members of all ages. She has been a clinician with the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation Senior Solutions Center since 2001.