Feeling Stressed About Change? Knowing This Will Make It Easier

 In Negative emotions

Do you have any changes going on in your work or life right now? Or maybe recently? If you’re like most people, your answer is, “Yes!” and you’ve probably noticed how stressful change can be. Maybe it was a change at work like learning a new system, getting used to new policies, or a new reporting structure. Maybe you changed jobs, moved to a new location, or had a change in a relationship. 

I was surprised to learn that the anxiety we feel usually doesn’t come from the actual change, but the uncertainty that accompanies it. Our brains absolutely detest uncertainty. It feels threatening because the future is unknown; the risks are unknown. So the best way our survival instinct can keep us safe is to make sure we are ready for the worst possible outcome. 

Several years ago, I had incredible uncertainty after getting laid off, leaving biotech, reinventing myself, and starting my own company. Would I ever learn how to run and market my business, much less figure out how to share my passion for positive psychology? Would I make enough to pay our bills and afford health insurance? I can remember the waves of nausea.

But I was lucky. I had already been learning valuable strategies from my new favorite science, Positive Psychology. In order to avoid the downward spiral into anxiety, I knew I needed to find the right distractions. After trying different things, I figured out what worked for me; yoga, music, friends, my pets, walks, deep breaths, practicing gratitude, and the list goes on. Here’s a list you may find helpful.

I also knew how my brain was responding to the uncertainty, so I could recognize that my stress was normal. I would thank my brain for its attempts to keep me safe and then work on shifting my thinking from worry to optimism. Trust me, it gets easier with practice!

 If you’re struggling with uncertainty, 

  • thank your brain for assuming the worst possible outcome (it’s just trying to keep you safe), then
  • find and use those ideas that help reduce your stress (check out this list for ideas).
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