Your Guide: Get Comfortable with Change
Change - good, bad or entirely neutral - stirs a deep fear in some people, the kind that's reserved for facing a lion. It's common, because of our wariness of the unknown, and expecting the worst from any given situation.
While it can be hard to change the feelings associated with change, taking the necessary steps to get comfortable with it will decrease negative feelings or feeling anxious. What you can do, is prepare for change and the feelings it might bring.
If you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach or your body starts to clench and tense up, we recommend you come up with reasons why this could be a good change.
Examples of this could be:
If you're accepting a new job: I could make more money than I expected. I could experience new opportunities. I may like this better than my current position. I could learn and grow from this new position.
If you're moving: I could make new friends. I could fall in love with their coffee shops. The new environment will help me try new things. I may like the change of pace and scenery.
The possibilities could be endless!
It's important to not let your fear and doubt overshadow the positive change. Sometimes, putting these ideas on paper can make the change feel more real... or at least as real as your worries.
This is when it's important to create a second list and write down all the good things that have come from changes in the past.
This list could range from moving to a new neighbourhood, switching jobs, travelling alone, etc.
Think of all the good that has come from changes that you’ve dreaded in the past. How couldn't some good come out of this change?
With that said, this technique isn't foolproof. With each possible good comes a 'yes, but...' a 'sure, but what about...'. The purpose of this exercise is to help you look on the brighter side and kick the doubt and worry to the curb.
Research has shown that making lists can be a postive psychological process that is good for reinforcing personal identity, calming a sense of inner chaos and prioritizing.
However, if making lists doesn’t do the trick for you, then what?
Set yourself up for success with... Self-care
When we grow accustomed to a routine and everything is going according to plan, it's easy to stay on the self-care train. However, when things take a turn, and there's a change coming, good intentions can go out the window.
You may no longer feel like you have time for Monday night yoga, writing in your daily gratitude journal or nourishing your body in the right ways.
This is not great because these healthy habits maintain your baseline, which is needed when experiencing stress or anxiety. When you start to lose your healthy habits your body and mind is no longer in the right place to be able to manage any change related stress. So, it’s important to set aside time for self-care, which for the most part, is time for you to spend doing something you enjoy or makes you feel healthier.
When things suddenly shift our natural instincts take over: fight or flight? Attack or shut down? These reactions may have helped in the hunter-gatherer past, but they can be paralyzing in the present.
The next time you freeze up, focus on your breath.
Not sure how to do that? Try one of these breathing exercises.
If you're able to break the stress cycle by focusing on your breath, the biological process that releases the stress hormone slows down. This gives you an opportunity to think through your next step without that rush of nerves.
Tackle the Change
A natural instinct is to pump the brakes when a change is foreseen. The longer we can put off the change, the better. Or so, we think.
It's hard for us to conceptualize change as a process. Normally, we think of it as a singular event.
For example, if you're thinking of leaving your job it will take nearly a dozen small actions: telling your boss, meeting with HR, planning out your finances, reaching out to future employers, etc.
Change requires moving through several steps, and the sooner you start the better.
Think of it as a 'to-do' list. Tackling the smaller easier steps like registering your new address or booking a UHaul will allow you to move to the next step and before you know it, the change will be happening and you’ll be moving right along with it.
By taking action first, it puts power back in your hands and removes some of the fear associated with the change you might be expecting.
If you’re expecting or experiencing a change in your life it doesn’t always have to be associated with negative feelings.
If you do start to experience negative feelings or feeling anxious you can try 1) changing your perspective 2) maintaining your self-care routine to combat stress and anxiety, 3) taking a minute to breathe, and 4) making a plan to tackle the changes you are about to experience.
Wondering where you fall on the anxiety scale? Find out through our anxiety assessment.