Anxious about change? Try these coping tips

Anxious about change? Try these coping tips

There comes a time when things get uneasy, you start to feel like something has to change, or maybe that it is changing whether or not you want to participate and then you feel anxious.

It’s normal to feel anxious. Change makes us wonder how we can adjust, what it means for what we thought we had or did or were. Maybe we have to let go of something or maybe we have to take something else on.

And then we lay in bed at 2 a.m. and watch thoughts collide and wonder how we’ll ever make sense of it all. That’s anxiety.

It happened to me when I considered a graduate program in creative writing. We looked at the budget and thought it could work. But reality set in and not only did I realize school would have to wait, but if we wanted to have the life we wanted to live, my days as a stay-at-home-mom were numbered. Now who’s anxious? Oh yeah.

I felt saddened at first, then I began to worry. My anxious mind bombarded me with quesitons. Could I handle a job with fixed hours? Could I handle working for a boss again? Would I be able to learn what I wanted on my own? The questions were endless, until I remembered a few coping tips that have always helped me when my routine was rocked, whether by something as small as going back to work, or as big as a move to another country.

Time

Don’t think you’ll come up with a magic answer all at once. New phases of life, new schedules, new responsibilities, they are big deals. 

You can’t just take in the Grand Canyon in one peek. You have to look at it from different angles, be near it for a while and let the bigness look you in the face. Then you can start to plan the path through. 

Give yourself permission to feel a little wonky about things for a while. Don’t beat yourself up for not having all the answers right away.

Journaling

Speaking of plan, get your pen and notebook and put some concrete things down on paper. 

Writing about how the change makes you feel is a good place to start. When you write, you naturally put cloudy ideas into tangible statements. I wrote more here about how journaling can be a reliable source of relief for anxiety.

Try this.

Start a list. Ask yourself: What makes me nervous about this? Leave some space between each item. Then go back and ask yourself how you can address each one. Different circumstances will generate different ideas. Free write. No one is going to see this. So get silly, get honest, see what comes up, then write it all down.

Next, let it go for a bit. Back to the “Time” idea up front. Your brain can work on these things while you go do some cathartic closet cleaning or Netflix watching.

Exercise

Get your body moving. Go for a walk, hit the gym (remember that membership from last New-Years-Resolution?) have a dance-off with your toddlers. Do something that gets your head out of your head and into the physical.

It’s practically cliche at this point to suggest exercise to ease your anxious mind, but it’s because it works. Give yourself a 30-minute walk, even in the cold fall weather, and you’ll feel the difference. Do it on a regular basis and you may find your need for them as emergency treatment comes less frequently.

Bonus, walking helps you age well and keep your brain in shape. 

Want more tips?

For more tips on dealing with anxiety, check this out: Five things I tell myself when anxiety creeps in:

If you’d ready to bring some healthy habits to your life to reduce stress and anxiety, check out my three-part series on a powerful morning routine to reduce stress and sign up for a FREE bonus calming meditation.

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Showing 18 comments
  • Dawan
    Reply

    Really great tips! I think this could help depression aswell! I belive time can almost heal everything. The problem is that it takes…time!😂

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      I think you’re right Dawan, this can help with depression as well. There is that tricky problem with patience, isn’t there! ha ha

  • Marisa
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I can certainly confirm that these things help dealing with anxiety, or in general in difficult times. I’ve taken a 3 month sabbatical this summer to reflect about my career and next steps (=time!). I kept a diary to capture thoughts, feelings and ideas. Finally, I exercised regularly to clear my head. I came out of the sabbatical period refreshed, energized, and with a clearer understanding of what I want for myself.

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      So glad you could take the time to reflect. So often we rush around and it sounds like you did exactly what you needed. So glad you have this revitilization going on. Best of luck!

  • Stacy
    Reply

    Another great post Tara!

  • Hanka
    Reply

    I´m always anxious about change, I´d say I´m quite a unflexible person. The best thing for me is when the change comes suddenly and I have to react quickly. The idea with journaling is very good, I´ll try it next time any change comes (and I hope that there won´t be any soon;)).

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      ha ha, good luck with the no-change-soon thing. 😉 You are right, when it comes fast, we have to react, no time to overthink. Then after that, though, I can get some good rebound suffering, then these tips help me in the aftermath as well!

  • Tamara
    Reply

    Good recommendations, Tara. We have to remind ourselves sometimes that Rome wasn’t built in a day!
    I also expect myself to solve everything on my own which of course is weighing heavily on my shoulders. So once I get out there and talk to people I trust, they (or even myself) come up with creative suggestions.

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      I know! Why do we feel that when we don’t have the answer right away, we are somehow failing? It’s nuts! We can make the habit, though, with practice, of stepping off that ledge.

  • Rachael
    Reply

    Thanks for the tips Tara. I always find exercise fixes everything. Daily yoga after lunch gets me right back in the game for the day, and a brisk morning walk can do incredible things for a clear mind 🙂

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      Lunch yoga! A newspaper I worked at hired a yoga instructor to come in for lunch once a week. It was amazing!

  • Kate Prinsloo
    Reply

    Great tips, especially around the holidays. Yoga and a good walk always do me wonders. That, and a cup of coffee and a great croissant. And chatting with girlfriends. And if all else fails, say no to things that don’t suit. Thanks!

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      Chatting with girlfriends can be a lot like journaling. When you have to formulate a sentence, written or aloud, it helps to get it out of the cloud of headspace and into something more linear that can give you insight into how to handle it, and it can bring it down in size. The big scary monster becomes a shadow. 😉

  • Olga
    Reply

    A great post! All so true, especially about getting our bodies moving. I don’t like any form of gym activities, but going for a 5-8km walk always puts me back to a calmer and more creative mode.

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      Walks are amazing for so many reasons. And speaking of creative, I don’t know about you, but a lot of times i find that’s where ideas pop up even when I wasn’t trying to work shomething out (consciously, anyway).

  • Stacy
    Reply

    Or get a therapist, lol! Ok maybe only if these tips don’t work! Thanks for the great tips!

    • Tara McLaughlin Giroud
      Reply

      I’m a huge believer in therapy. It changed my life. By all means, if change has you reeling and you can’t seem to get a grasp on things, therapy is a great place to start to sort through it.

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