The anxiety of change

Change is constantly happening, sometimes we choose it, sometimes it happens to us. This can bring anxiety. So often it feels that the road we are meant to take is the one which is most overwhelming and yet if we can continue ahead, we can reap the rewards.

One of my clients made huge changes in her life – she quit her job, took a sabbatical to help her mental wellbeing and then she contacted me. The changes didn’t stop there, then, she chose to move from the house she had lived in for the last 25 years and move somewhere new. Now she has financial security and is building a support network closer to her family. Yet, throughout the process, her anxiety kept knocking on the door. We had so many conversations where she wondered if this was the right move for her.

Thinking about anxiety

When we think of anxiety most of us associate it with dangerous or negative circumstances like (the thought of) running into someone you don’t like at a party or if you are like me, getting lost in a new city or being late.

The thing is though, that whenever we move out of our comfort zone we all feel anxious. Just because we feel anxious, it doesn’t mean that anything bad *will* happen. It might, but it might not. Recently, I saw a question which read

What if we changed our mindset and instead of seeing that change happens to us (even if we choose it) but saw that change happens for us?

What if we saw change as getting us one step closer to our goals, what if we saw ourselves as being exactly where we need to be?

Keeping on top of your anxiety

  1. Write it down: Whether it is on the back of an envelope or in a journal or on a device get it out of your head. Go into as much detail as you need. Imagine the worst case scenario and challenge your own thoughts. How likely is that to happen? You might look back in months or years to come and reflect on the outcome.
  2. Breathe: Use the 7/11 exercise in those moments where your anxiety is overwhelming. Breathe in for 7 counts, out for 11 counts. Repeat three times. When we are under stress or we’re anxious we breathe shallowly, this exercise helps us breathe more deeply and calms our minds.
  3. Exercise: I like yoga or running myself but a 10-minute walk outside or some nice stretches can be equally calming. Choose something you enjoy, better still, if your anxiety allows, try something new. Exercise is hugely beneficial to our mental wellbeing.
  4. Reflect: One thing I do with my clients is to think back to another time when you were successful and when you overcame a difficulty or change. So often we have been through turbulent times and come through but we forget. This gives you an opportunity to remember that you can do this and to remind yourself of your strengths.
  5. Hire a coach (or at least talk to someone!): Talking your fears out loud to someone else can be so freeing. Brene Brown says that there is no situation that no-one else has been through. Whilst the circumstances may not be exactly the same, we can find comfort in hearing that we are not alone, that what we are experiencing is normal.

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