How To Deal When Change Comes Quick And Constant

Jade Carpenter discusses how to face change, and win.

Ah change, you love it or you hate it but either way it is inevitable. Pretty scary right?

Sometimes I see ‘inspirational’ quotes that say “A year from now, nothing will be the same” and to be honest, to me that’s not very comforting. I know it’s all situational, but I find myself thinking, ‘Well I really hope some things are the same because I quite like how they are right now’…Change scares me. Not always in a bad way, sometimes it’s good scary, like taking on an exciting new role at your job, it’s a scary but exciting change. Good change. The change that scares me in a negative sense is when you find something worth keeping the same.

Be that a relationship, a career move, a moment in time when you’re living with your best friends and you just hope and wish you could bottle it all up and hold onto it forever. If it’s right for you, relationships and career moves don’t have to change. But situations and life will, and in turn everything along with it… and it’s out of your control.

Change is good, I know, I know. It excites me too; you never know what will happen or where you’ll be in five years! But, at the same time… *serious tone* You never know what will happen or where you’ll be in five years.

Who will still be in your life? Did you reach that goal? Did you spend too much time worrying about change to be in the present…?

Phew, it’s a lot. And sometimes, it’s a little too much. Change comes quick and it is constant. Which means just when you’ve gotten to grips with one area of your life, another major change comes out of left field. Then you’re running on the treadmill again trying to catch up to comfort… It can be overwhelming and hard to catch your breath when you feel like change controls you, rather than being able to embrace it.

Embracing change, what a concept. You know, when it happens, it’s actually really fun. Being willing to take on whatever comes your way, letting the unknowns boost your adrenaline and appreciation for what is now. Rather than wasting the present on the what ifs of the future. I’ve felt it, it’s possible even for a creature of habit.

And get this, your feelings change too! Imagine being so certain that something is for you, and suddenly you realise you actually want something else, and here you are welcoming a change in your life, that you’ve initiated!

Of course, it’s not easy to feel that way all the time or at all in some cases and change continues to bring a lot of anxiety to people for fear of the unknown, losing something they love or even just wanting to be comfortable where they are. It’s not fun to be stressing over these things, not only because it ruins your ability to stay present, but also because you don’t have control of what’s to come. “Don’t stress over things you can’t change”, a quote I’ve held onto since childhood that actually DID bring comfort. And still does, at the end of the day, the stress won’t stop it.

During the pandemic, we experienced change like never before, nothing was constant, ever. New restrictions, restrictions lifting, back in lockdown, cancelled plans, the only thing certain was uncertainty.

These days it’s hard to trust the freedom we’ve been feeling lately, although (fingers crossed) it seems pretty secure at the moment. But there’s still a piece inside that doesn’t quite let me forget that the world could change in a matter of hours. Oh, what a time to be alive.

Michael Ledden, founder, manager and lead Psychotherapist at Anxiety Ireland explains that people are still very much feeling the impact of the pandemic, “Funnily enough, we saw more people struggling with the changes of coming in and out of lockdown, rather than going into it in the first place. Which was interesting. The constant changing rules. The constant, ‘Will I be able to go here or there…It’s okay now, now it’s not okay again’. People found that very hard.”

“With anxiety, we always look at how someone reacts to uncertainty. Some people are better able to handle it than others, some people will respond with worry and it can be a terrible thing because your mind can paint 1000 scenarios. None of which might even come true!” he continues.

Creating thousands of possible scenarios in your mind is an all too familiar feeling. It’s not until none of these come true that you really sit back and think, ‘maybe I didn’t need to over think that’. Hindsight, a beautiful thing.

Michael says there are ways to learn to deal with this process, “A lot of it comes back to self-care and looking at what are the things you can control. Maybe getting enough exercise, watching how much news or Twitter that you’re taking in. Deliberately coming back to your breath and trying to slow yourself down.

“Everyone’s familiar with what’s like to be stressed or to maybe even feel a bit anxious. The mind is going faster than the body likes at that stage. Try to slow yourself down, maybe using the breath as an anchor and focusing on the good habits and good things that you can control.”

“One thing about the world is it’s an uncertain place, it’ll throw us curve balls and particularly the media loves to blow things up for clicks. So, it’s sort of coming back to yourself. [Asking] ‘Is this good for me?’, ‘Is my body in a rested, stable state?’ I tell people to keep asking yourself those kinds of questions to try and land a little bit and slow down. Just to help stop the cycle of anxiety and give yourself little breaks,” he adds.

Doireann Garrihy often asks if laughter wasn’t the best medicine, what would be? And in this case, a break really is it. Giving yourself time to breathe, to feel like you can get yourself together before getting back to usual programming. But it’s not always that simple, and even taking the break without feeling overwhelmed is tough, Michael ensures us it’s all part of the process;

“Humans find change really, really tough. You’re not the only one. So, beating ourselves up never really solves the problem, it just makes it worse. I would say for people to go gentle on themselves, but be honest. [Ask yourself] Where am I at? What am I doing that I didn’t do before?… Make that assessment and just gently start working with it. Don’t beat yourself up.”

In the wise words of Mr David Bowie, sometimes we have to turn and face the strange, because the Ch-ch-changes are going to keep on coming (sorry, not sorry). And even though this can be stressful af, it’s been the case all our lives, time has been moving at the same pace since we were born!

So, find the places in your life where you can anchor some stability, a family member, a comfort show or taking up yoga. Take the power into your own hands and keep some little things the same in the ever changing world, the balance can make a big difference.

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