What changes are you facing at the moment? New job? New house? A change in relationship status? A child starting school or leaving for University?
Life is constantly changing whether it is something we can control or something we can’t, whether the change is perceived as being good or bad. Who we are now is not who we were last year, last week, even yesterday. Life doesn’t stand still, change is the very nature of our existence – our thoughts, feelings and beliefs are as changeable as the UK weather.
While change may be inevitable it is not always something we welcome or something we can easily deal with. It can upset our world and we may face that change with resistance, fear, anger, sadness, grief and anxiety. Any form of adjustment is accompanied with some level of stress or distress – even a positive change.
Change is difficult because it is different. Our brains like to make sense of the world around us, if we can categorise something then we can make sense of it, thus making the world feel like a safer place. So we need to train our brains to better adapt to change. If we embrace and experience change regularly then our brain will start to process this new information, we are collating evidence that says we can cope with change, we can survive it, that it can help us to grow and can lead to positive outcomes. This will mean that we are less likely to fear change.
As we can’t control the things changing around us how do we make the transition less stressful?
Here are some tips for dealing with change:
Accept that change is inevitable – it’s okay to feel stress, anxiety, distress. Allow yourself time to experience these emotions but don’t dwell on them, equally avoiding the stress can be just as harmful because the emotions we experience are a part of the way we process the change.
Consider the positives – This isn’t easy because emotional distress can make it very difficult for us to be able to be positive or even rational. If you are finding this step difficult ask yourself ‘what would I tell a friend if they were the one in this situation’. You could also ask an independent person for their opinion.
You have faced change before – make a list of previous experiences, times when you have dealt with change and come out the other side. Being able to see past successes can help to boost our confidence in dealing with the current change.
Write down what you are worried about What are you most afraid of? What is the worst case scenario? Write it all down. Sometimes, seeing our thoughts and fears written down on a piece of paper can help us to gather perspective. It can help us to take a more detached view of our thoughts and in turn this can help us to see that our thoughts and anxiety may be inflated causing unnecessary distress.
Breathe Deeply – When distressed, anxious or scared we breathe shallowly. If you feel nervous take some deep breathes from your diaphragm (you should see your stomach blow up like a balloon being inflated). This will help you to feel calmer.
Relax – Do something that you find relaxing, how about trying yoga, a run, a hot bath or read a book.
Seek extra support – Talk to a friend or family member about what is making you anxious. If you are finding a change particularly difficult to adjust to then seek extra support. Talking therapies can help you to understand the cause of the difficulty adjusting and can help you to find strategies for coping.
Find out more about Capital CBT at: www.capitalcbt.com
We are committed to helping you overcome the problems that you face, reduce the distressing physical symptoms you may experience and better manage those racing thoughts.