What comes to mind when you hear the word “change”? Do you feel nervous? Uncertain? Does it make you excited? Or did you just roll your eyes? Many of us have a complicated relationship with this word, and it’s not uncommon for a lot of feelings to come up from just the idea of it.
The truth of the matter is – life is always changing. You might’ve heard the phrase, “Change is the only constant in life” – yet most of us still struggle to accept it when it inevitably comes our way. We’re comfortable with our routines and habits, and if something interrupts that, we perceive it as a threat to our well-built system.
Routines are important, but so is flexibility – it’s essential to find a balance between both in order to live our best lives. Our daily habits create stability and comfort, however, too much comfort creates a sense of stagnancy. Stagnancy leaves us feeling stuck, and it’s not uncommon to slip into depression.
While it’s normal to fear change and even resist it – there are practices and strategies to overcome this fear and even embrace change itself. In fact, finding ways to cope with change helps lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, if you find yourself unable to cope with the change in your life, it’s important to have someone on your side. The psychiatrists and psychologists at Dr. Messina and Associates are here to guide you to the life you deserve.
Here are a few techniques you can practice on your way to becoming pro at embracing life’s curveballs:
When we’re faced with big life changes, it’s easy for our minds to spiral, imagining every possible outcome and triggering symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s important to understand that this is normal, and simply our brain’s way of trying to keep us safe. If you notice yourself going down a mental spiral, take inventory of everything you can and can’t control. Anxiety is rooted in the feeling of lacking control. The antidote to anxiety is action. Ask yourself what you can do in this moment to make progress, no matter how small, and start with one step at a time.
When life is shifting and things feel uncertain, it’s helpful to hold onto a trusted set of self-care routines. These will help keep you grounded and create a sense of normalcy. Repetitive routines or rituals are proven to relieve anxiety and promote a feeling of calm. That’s because self-care sends a message to the brain that we care about our well-being, creating a sense of security within. Our routines are also a source of comfort for us because we’re well acquainted with them. So, when life feels overwhelming and chaotic, think of your daily habits as the eye of the storm – calm and tranquil.
Experience is our greatest teacher. If the thought of change paralyzes you, it could be beneficial to practice taking calculated “risks” within your range of voluntary discomfort. The key here is initiating change and discomfort on your own accord. Here are a few small and harmless ways to practice voluntary discomfort:
It’s intuitive to avoid discomfort because it takes us out of our comfort zone. Most of the gadgets and technologies we have today entice us with their promise of certain comforts. Making it an intention to step out of our comfort zones is like exposure therapy for our brains. And the good news is, the more you make it a point to step out of your comfort zone, the more your comfort zone expands.
Frankly, we all have changes that we look forward to. It’s exciting to change our rooms around or paint the walls a different color, and I’ve never seen anyone sad over keys to a new car. Some changes are arguably more difficult than others, but after some experience, you’ll find that resisting change is often more difficult than accepting it. Intentionally working on your relationship to change will ultimately strengthen it. Ask questions and get in touch with how you feel. It takes time and effort to rewire negative thought patterns. Be patient with yourself.
This one can be hard to remember when you live in a fast-paced world. There’s this idea that we’re expected to race from one thing to the next, filling up every bit of time that we have. This way of living keeps us in a constant state of hyper-arousal. Do you know what happens when you live in a state of hyper-arousal? You have difficulty focusing, you’re irritable, and you may as well be running on a hamster wheel of anxiety. Rushing always feels more stressful, because it is. It’s a normal response to feel down and exhausted when you’re going through changes, so give yourself the grace to go at your own pace.
Virtual psychiatry appointments are available for those who struggle with attending in person visits. Whether you live in a rural area, struggle with mobility, or a chronic condition – such as social anxiety disorder – that makes it difficult to leave home, Dr. Messina and Associates are here to accommodate your needs.
Here at Dr. Messina and Associates, our compassionate team of professionals are qualified to help you at our Flower Mound, Texas, and Southlake, Texas, offices. Our Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychological testing, and medication management for a variety of emotional and behavioral health needs. All services are available in-person and online (telehealth). If you or a loved one are seeking help with mental health, we are here to help.