Coping with Change
Moving is always a challenging process; whether it’s the physical act of transporting your possessions or the emotional attachments you hold to the place and people you’re leaving, there’s no way around it – it’s stressful. For some, myself included, the process is compounded by the anxiety you can feel when confronted with such changing life conditions.
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.
While perhaps a tad dramatic – I certainly don’t think an old life has to die for a new one to begin – change often feels like I’m leaving something essential behind. And even if what I’m moving towards are fantastic opportunities and unforeseeable life experiences, I tend to focus on what I’m missing out on rather than what I can possibly gain.
So as I prepare to move countries, once again, from Australia back to Montreal, I’ve been reflecting on what I can change to make this transition as stress-free, and uncomplicated, as possible. By focusing on the positive opportunities that lie ahead of me, rather than worrying about problems that may never eventuate, I’ve remained fairly calm – up until now. Now that I’m only a few days away from my departure date, I’m beginning to feel overwhelmed, which is putting me in a bad mood for what should be an exciting time.
Some of the strategies I’ve been using are outlined in this Psychology Today article where author and psychologist, Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D, discusses six strategies to help reduce anxiety levels in the face of change. Here’s a quick summary of her suggestions:
- Consider the likelihood of the worrisome event actually occurring – realising the improbability of such negative outcomes can help you to remain calm.
- When we become anxious we tend to take our negative thoughts to the extreme, but think about what is the worst that is likely to happen? And with any potential negative event, understand that you have the skills and mental capacity to handle most things life throws at you. If it helps, think about and plan how you would handle a worst-case scenario should it eventuate.
- Try meditation techniques like deep breathing and relaxation to help calm your nerves. Just focusing your mind on something else, something as simple as breathing, can help break your anxious thought patterns and stop you from becoming overwhelmed.
- Think about how you usually react, physically and mentally, to stressful situations. Observing your own actions can help you to think more clearly about how you can manage your reactions when faced with such challenges.
- Accept that fear is a normal part of life, and try focusing on the overall life goals that require you to push through your fear.
- Face your fear – the more you expose yourself to a stressful situation the easier it will be to deal with in the future.
I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.