Navigating the Stress and Anxiety of Life Changes and Transitions
The only certainty in our lives is that sooner or later things will change. It is an inevitable part of life that things will not stay the same. Bigger changes such as those listed below, can create stress and anxiety. I will discuss some of the reasons why changes and transitions can create stress and anxiety, regardless of whether we perceive them positively or negatively. I will also offer some strategies and practices that may assist you to navigate through life changes and transitions.
Changes and transitions that can create stress and anxiety
- New job
- Job changes (promotion, redundancy, change in management etc.)
- Moving house
- Changes to family structure (a new child, child leaving home, caring for an older or unwell family member)
- Relationships begin and end
- Friendships change (they move away, start new relationships that impact on your friendship)
- Finances fluctuate
- Injury or illness
- And many more!
Why do changes and life transitions create stress and anxiety?
In a nutshell, we humans are creatures of habit. We like to know what’s coming next and feel comfortable when we feel in control. Changes can trigger danger signals in our brains, and the stress and anxiety we may experience when things change are a result of our brains trying to protect us.
WAYS OF NAVIGATING CHANGES AND TRANSITIONS
When we are experiencing changes or transitions in our lives, our minds can become overly focused on what comes next and what to do about it. Mindfulness can assist in bringing your focus back to the current moment. Mindfulness meditation has become better known in recent times. In a nutshell, mindfulness is focusing on our present moment. You can achieve mindfulness in pretty much any activity throughout your day. Washing the dishes, showering, eating, the list is limitless. Whatever activity you are doing, such as washing the dishes focus completely on that task. When performing repetitive tasks such as this, our minds tend to wander. Mindful eating happens when you taste each bite of food, without rushing, savouring and noticing every flavour and sensation of your food.
List your strengths
Grab yourself a pen and paper or your laptop, iPad etc., and summarise the change or transition that you are experiencing now. Can you think of a time or situation in your life that you experienced something similar? Note down all the things you did or the helpful thoughts you used that worked well for you before. Then, write down all of your strengths. This can be strengths that you know you have as well as the strengths that supportive family and/or friends have noticed about you. These strengths and things that have worked for you in the past may be helpful as you move through the latest changes and transitions. This exercise is about acknowledging the times you have used your existing strengths to navigate a change or transition. However, it is also important to acknowledge that each change and transition you may experience in your life will also develop new strengths and abilities, as well as some potentially valuable learnings that can be applied in the future.
Take time for self-care
When you are working through the challenges that life changes and transitions can bring it can be easy to become overwhelmed and caught up in the stress and anxiety. It is important during these times to ensure you are taking care of yourself. Self-care is looking after yourself. Eating well, exercising and doing things for you that you enjoy are helpful. Whether it is going for a walk, enjoying spending time with family and friends, making time for a hobby or activity you enjoy, ensure you are practicing self-care. You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you become run down you will be less able to work through your current challenges and you may find that stress and anxiety can increase. So, the better you feel physically, mentally and emotionally, there better equipped you will be to handle the curve balls that life throws at you.
What to do if it feels overwhelming
The stress and anxiety we experience during changes and transitions in our lives can have an impact on our wellbeing. Some things you may be able to address yourself. However, sometimes we can benefit from additional support and assistance. Can reach out to a supportive friend or family member and talk things through? Or, talking with a counsellor or other helping professional may assist you in finding your own way to work with your challenges.
If there are issues and circumstances that you need support and assistance to work through, please contact me for an obligation free, confidential discussion as to how I may be able to assist you. Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger sessions are available.
Inner Mind Therapies
Ph 0403 357 656