From the Editor

Learning to Embrace Change

From Linda Priestley, Editor-in-Chief


Change. It’s an ordinary word—but one that can sometimes (often) set nerves jangling. Faced with change, we protest, we try to control it as we would a wild ani- mal, or we simply deny it. All these reactions cause stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.

It’s true that change can be difficult, but with a positive outlook, change can also be a driving force for growth. According to neurologists, psychologists, and pain specialists, a healthy response to change (internal or external) hinges on allostasis.

Allo-what? Allostasis is a set of mechanisms that ensure a certain degree of stability during change. In essence, we organize our lives, new situations arise that disorganize them, and then we reorganize them and gain not the same sense of calm we had before but a serenity that is more rewarding and more enlightened. In other words, we change so we can be better at change.

Go With the Flow

To lighten our allostatic load, which results from excess stress, the key is to participate actively when change happens—to embrace change instead of resisting it or just putting up with it. That means using destabilizing events or periods in our lives—such as the pandemic, inflation, or the arrival of artificial intelligence, not to mention personal times of transition such as retiring, moving, an illness, or the death of a loved one—to work at becoming a pro at reorganizing.

When he’s feeling overwhelmed by a major change or wants to resist it, Brad Stulberg, the author of Master of Change: How to Excel When Everything Is Changing—Including You, says he repeats the following phrases over and over: “This is what’s happening right now. I have to deal with it. I’m doing the best I can. How can I act effectively in the face of this change?”

It’s in accepting the situation and our limits, and showing resilience and flexibility, that we will feel less buffeted by the winds of change. And that’s a win for our health and our morale!

Good to Know

• According to science, as allostatic load rises, so does the risk of death and decline.

• The latest Canadian statistics on allostatic load show that it increases with age.

• Our brain is at its best when it is constantly reorganizing and making new connections. Change is good for the brain, so let’s make the most of it!