Coping With the Anxiety of Change
As a counselor, therapist and reader, I have never met anyone that embraces change in their life without at least a little anxiety.
A good portion of the time it comes with major anxiety and a sense of powerlessness. Most of us associate anxiety with danger or unwelcome events and circumstances. But the reality is that anxiety is going to happen whether it is a good change that is getting ready to happen (think anxious bride or bridegroom) or an unexpected challenge in life.
Fear of change is subtle. It operates under the radar convincing you that it’s there to protect you and keep you safe. Just because you feel anxious does not mean something bad is going to happen. Change is inevitable and we all experience the flow of life changes in different ways. Some changes can be significant and emotionally “heavy” while others are small steps to get us closer to a larger goal.
Learn to embrace change
Change will occur in almost every aspect of our lives and we can learn to embrace it while releasing the past with grace. The most important thing to remember during times of significant change is that there may be times when you are “super-excited” and ready to dance around and there may be times when your mind spins in circles, your anxiety rises and you aren’t sure if you can handle it.
When we find ourselves going through any kind of change in our lives, our natural response may be to tense up on the physical, mental, or emotional level. We may not even notice that we have braced ourselves against a shift until we recognize the anxiety, mood swings, or general worried feeling toward the unknown that usually results.
There are positive ways to move through change without pushing it away or attempting to deny that it is happening. Since change will occur in almost every aspect of our lives, we can learn to make our response to it an affirmative one of anticipation, welcoming the new while releasing the past with grace.
How to ease the anxiety of change
High levels of anxiety are often brought about by your projected imagination, rumors about an impending change, self-doubt over ability to handle the change and not knowing what to expect. This can have a crippling effect on your ability to make functioning choices. Here are some general guidelines that can ease the anxiety and fear that comes with the inevitable changes that life throws at us.
- Allow Your Brain To Stop Projecting. When you are overloaded with so much information and so many to-do’s, your brain starts to “overheat” and, when our brains are overheating, it’s nearly impossible to gain clarity of thought. Engage your brain in any sort of distraction like a movie, a game, book or a uplifting conversation with a friend about anything other than what you are anxious about.
- Listen To Your Body. Recognize tense muscles and a knotted stomach as a sign that there is something you need to know. Listen. Pause. Breathe. Then gently explore what is going on in your body, allowing rather than resist. Accepting that you are anxious rather than fighting it.
- Verbally Reach Out. Ask for help if you need it. Seek guidance from a friend, family member, life coach or counselor. Recognize what you need and take action!
- Step Up Your Self-Care. What is your “go to” self-care practice? Do it MORE! Meditation, journaling, exercising or spending time with a friend. Schedule it, then do it!
- Put Your Electronics To Sleep. For a set amount of time, shut your phone off, turn off the TV, power you’re your computer and sit with the quiet. BE with yourself!
Susan Z’s Verdict
We all suffer from anxiety at some point in time. Some over the top “I think I am losing my mind” kind of anxiety and the “OMG, I am so nervous and excited type. The more you move into acceptance there will be moments, periods of time and experiences that you will feel anxious or stay anxious. Make it ok and try not to judge it or yourself for it. Pray for guidance, find a soothing ‘aaaah’ tool to get you through it and break it down into baby steps to conclusion. Throw out the idea you can control your anxiety or what causes it. You can only address it and calm yourself out of it. Last suggestion, try not to overmedicate to make it go away. You may feel better for the moment but the cause remains.
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