Yes, even things you look forward to can cause emotional discomfort. Why? There are a number of possible reasons. For many people, a consistent routine is what feels best, and when it is altered, they experience stress. For others, a major change causes a sense of fear of the unknown. In any case, there are things you can do to minimize or eliminate the negative impact of a big life event. I’d like to share some ideas about navigating such terrain.
4 Techniques for Navigating Big Changes
When you experience a significant turning point in your life — or better yet, when you see it on the horizon or when you don’t. Please begin by taking time to prepare — try these strategies for experiencing less fear and sadness and, when possible, more excitement and joy.
* Acknowledge your discomfort. Often we try to hide our feelings about a major life change, not only from our family and friends but also from ourselves. Acknowledging to yourself that, “I’m worried. This situation scares me,” is a great first step toward dealing with your anxiety in a positive way. From there, making the same kind of admission to your loved ones can help even more.
* Focus on physical relaxation. The positive or negative state of our mind and our body go hand-in-hand. Taking time to release your physical tension can have a very positive effect on your emotions. Exercise, proper nutrition, a massage… there are many ways to sooth your body and soul.
* Take charge of the change. Being in the uncomfortable position of wondering “What’s going to happen next?” is a major cause of depression and anxiety. One of the best ways to counteract it is to take action. For example, if you’re nervous about starting a new job, drive by the location before your first day so you have your commuting strategy in place, plan what you’ll wear the first week, grocery shop for lunch and snack food, ask the HR representative questions about company culture or your new boss about your job responsibilities. In short, be proactive.
* Cultivate an “attitude of gratitude.” For positive life events, this isn’t hard to do. The new baby, the adventure of relocating and getting to know another town or the new relationship all have many exciting aspects. Remind yourself of them regularly, and be thankful that you get to experience them. With negative life events, this strategy is more challenging. However, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and an opportunity to begin a “new chapter.” Practice mindfulness to keep your mind in the here and now. Observe thoughts and feelings from a distance without classifying them as good or bad. Keeping those things in mind can help prevent negative thoughts from dominating your thinking.
The ability to prepare for and manage major life events is a valuable skill. People think that in times like these we can’t prepare, but the truth is we should plan ahead as best we can, but stay in a posture to change plans as needed. We’ve learned in this COVID climate that being blindsided doesn’t mean we stay blind. But rather we stay ready for whatever lies ahead.
To Your Success