New beginnings are happening to us all the time—the birth of children, career changes, marriage and relationship issues, friendships, health challenges, different life stages, etc. Change, however positive it may be, is often stressful and can lead to inner turmoil.
You may feel a mix of emotions—from joy and excitement to sadness, fear, anxiety, or depression. Typically when we are under stress the things in our lives we were using to stay on track and stay healthy fall apart. We tend to stop eating healthy, drop our exercise routine, change sleeping habits, and skip out on social events. Avoiding these pillars of health can cause us to feel even more stressed and out of control of our own lives.
Counselors and therapists at Move Forward are very familiar with the anxiety and stress of new beginnings. We see it all the time as we help clients from all over Pennsylvania (Lancaster, Hershey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and beyond). That is why we have created a list of tips to help you cope with the stress of change.
1.) Make A Plan — The biggest cause of stress when it comes to change is the feeling that you have lost control. Things are different than they used to be, you have to change your routine, and because of that, you may feel flustered and out of sorts. To help you regain some feelings of structure and control make a plan. Lists and calendars are hugely helpful. Schedule things out, determine the next steps, and slowly you will find calm.
If it is possible, work on anticipating potential changes before they happen so you already have a plan in place. For example, what would you do if you lost your job? Have you updated your resume recently?
2.) Identify and Reframe Unhelpful Thoughts —Pay attention to any negative thought patterns and reframe them to be more positive. For example, if you are moving to a new neighborhood you may be afraid you will lose all your friends or you will miss your old backyard. Instead, focus on how you will maintain friendships, and the potential positives of the new neighborhood and your new home. Changing your perception and thought patterns can go a long way to improving your mood and reducing stress. A counselor, therapist, or other mental health professional can also assist you in identifying and changing these thoughts.
3.) Allow Time To Reflect — In today’s busy world we are so quick to jump from one thing to another that often we don’t give ourselves times to reflect, process, or grieve a change. Give yourself an outlet and some time to look back at what you are losing before you move on. You can write in a journal, talk to a counselor, therapist, or another mental health professional, call a friend or come up with a personal way to honor the loss with a scrapbook, poem, or painting. Giving yourself the proper time to process a change, rather than numbing or ignoring it, will help you to move forward with a clearer, healthier frame of mind.
4.) Find Some Normalcy — Get back into some of those healthy habits that you may have dropped. Start exercising again, eating healthy, getting the proper sleep, meeting friends or family for meals or other outings. Whatever you can do to create a sense of normalcy will help to provide you with comfort and structure.
5.) Create Comfort — What are things in your life that give you comfort? Listen to music as you reorganize your new home or office, meditate, do yoga, exercise, take a warm bath, wear a special sweatshirt or scarf that invokes feelings of safety and security. Whatever it is that brings you comfort and calm, let yourself lean on those devices. That being said, avoid overdoing destructive behaviors like alcohol, drugs, or gambling, as they will only lead to more stress over time.
6.) Embrace Gratitude — We all have things we are thankful for, even during the most trying of times. When you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, take some time to focus on the good in your life. Count your blessings. Write down a couple of positives that have happened each day and focus on those. This simple tool can have a big impact on your mood and overall mental health.
If you are struggling with a change consider seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional. A counselor or therapist can give you healthy coping tools to work through your anxiety or other feelings in a healthy manner.
Ready to begin counseling in Pennsylvania?
At Move Forward, our professionally-trained and licensed counselors have openings. Just call our office at 717-462-7003×1 and speak to our administrative assistant to get started. You can get the tailored help you need right now. We are here.