How to Conquer Stress: Train Your Brain to Handle Any Change That Comes Your Way

Change is hard.

Even good change can cause a certain amount of stress.

But it may be difficult for more reasons than you’d think.

Did you know that change actually messes with your brain?

When the unexpected happens or things just don’t match up, your brain actually sends out a warning message.

Fortunately, there are some strategies you can use to deal with change in a healthy way.


The science

When your brain encounters something it identifies as “not quite right,” your frontal lobes become overrun by hormones.

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One of those is cortisol – otherwise known as the stress hormone.

It’s what makes your body react with a fight, flight or freeze response.

Basically, your body begins to freak out a little bit.


The work factor

So, what happens when there is a shake-up of some sort in your job?

Maybe there’s a new manager joining the team or a merger is taking place.

You may have the urge to respond by quitting your job (flight) or attempting to gain control with anger (fight).

Neither of these is a good choice, nor is it a great idea to emulate others’ responses – for lack of a better response of your own.

Multiple people engaging in bad behavior will only exacerbate the problem.

Let’s look at what you should do when you feel stress coming on because big changes are happening.


Just breathe

Multitasking plus stress results in disorientation and wild behavior.

Surely those aren’t on your list of professional goals!

When this begins to happen, though, you stop breathing deeply.

You may unconsciously hold your breath, your breath might become shallow because your body is slumping, and your neck and shoulder muscles become tight.

These physical responses actually cut off the oxygen to your brain.

Guess what that does?

You got it – it makes you more stressed!

Here are a few ways to combat stress:

The priority here is to breathe!

When you have a deep-breathing method in your toolbox, you can pull it out when those stressful moments come.

You’ll calm down and you’ll have a clearer head.

Fight your body’s natural stress reactions with breathing, observation and asking questions. #improvtips

Look around

When changes come your way, your focus unconsciously shifts to yourself, right?

Actually, this is the exact opposite of what you should be doing.

Observe what’s happening around you.

Watch your companions, your environment and anything else that can provide valuable information.

Wait to see how situations unfold.

Ask why it’s happening and look for the familiar in the unexpected.

You’ll have a better understanding and that leads to making the best possible choices in an uncertain time.


Ask questions

This strategy seems like a no-brainer.

Yet, sometimes your ego can keep you from asking the important questions.

Nobody wants to look like a dummy and you certainly don’t want to draw attention to yourself.

Asking open-ended questions is the secret to managing life’s challenges because they demand longer, more involved answers.

Here’s an example:

If you’re in the midst of a tough situation with your team, ask a question that gets everyone talking. You’ll learn a lot and also give yourself the chance to breathe and think!

It’s also a great way to save face when you’re given a hard question.

Ask for more information. As they expound, you have more time to think about your response!


Change will come – be ready

Life has a way of throwing all kinds of unexpected things at you.

You can be ready by having these tools in your arsenal.

Know how to breathe deeply to keep air flowing to your brain, observe the people and situations around you, and never be afraid to ask questions.

As you implement these strategies you’ll begin to notice that you’re handling the stress of change in a much more efficient way.

Do you have a tried-and-true method for calming yourself during times of stress?


Take some time to find a deep-breathing exercise that feels natural and works well for you.

This article is 100% written by a human named Karen Hough. She is the Founder & CEO of ImprovEdge, in the top 4% of women-owned businesses in the US, a 3-time Amazon bestselling author, Yale grad, wife and mom of three.