Change is exciting. Change is terrifying. But no matter how you feel about it, change is anxiety inducing.
For the average person, anxiety is the warning your body sends to your brain to notify it of change. Anxiety isn’t always bad. It’s the butterflies in your stomach before a first date; the excitement and nervousness you feel on your first day of a new job. All too often we experience the anxiety that comes from negative experiences. Anxiety that this first date is a horrible person. The pit of stress you fall into when you walk into work at a job you hate. What new problems are going to arise? What changes are going to happen?
I think one of the major hindrances of people achieving their goals is the fear of change. Change is anxiety inducing. It’s scary. The idea of quitting a hated job or leaving a city you’re not comfortable in to explore new options is terrifying. Especially if you’re taking a leap and moving forward on faith.
In February I “rage quit” my job after months of being treated poorly and trying so hard to work for my clients. I got to the point where I couldn’t take the stress anymore and when a co-worker was fired for almost no reason, I walked out after her. I had no job prospects in sight. Within a few months it became evident my husband’s job was failing to meet the standards he’s set for himself. With a crappy rental that was literally collapsing under us, we decided to leave town, take a leap of faith and move on.
We’ve been back in his hometown for nearly two months and been trying to get our footing. I’ve got a part-time job and a freelance gig I’m setting up through this website. He’s struggling to find his way. The house we agreed to rent is being renovated and we’re living with my in-laws. This is not where I wanted to be at this stage in my life.
But you know what? It’s where we are. We are a young couple with no kids (only a spoiled rotten kitty) and we’re working toward goals. Sure the goals aren’t specific, but they’re our goals. My goal is to get my freelance proofreading business going so I can work from home, so I can eliminate the need for daycare once we have kids. His goal is to find a job he doesn’t hate that can turn into a career. How sad is it that he’s hated all the full-time jobs he’s held? It breaks my heart for him. So we’re moving on, looking into options, and supporting each other.
We’re technically homeless and unemployed right now. Talk about stress and anxiety, right?
So what do we do that can help relieve our anxiety while going through so many changes?
- Communicate. I can’t stress this enough. My husband is not a talker, I am. I have to ask questions of him to get what he’s thinking. It’s ok, because he still communicates with me that way. I know where he’s at and I try very hard not to inundate him with questions. If you aren’t married, vent to a friend, write in a journal, scream it all out to God. Believer or not, it’ll make you feel better. You have to communicate your stresses, bottling it up only prolongs the suffering.
- Take time for “carefree timelessness”. In his book, The Seven Levels of Intimacy, Matthew Kelly discusses “carefree timelessness” which is the ability to spend time with your spouse without an agenda. It’s the difference between spending a Saturday accomplishing chores or errands and carving out a few hours to get together and say “what do you want to do?” and end up getting ice cream. It’s something a lot of couples don’t make sure to do, and struggle to have time for. With neither of us working right now, we are absolutely spending this time together with the understanding that we won’t have so much time like this in the future. If you don’t currently have a significant other, make time for a close friend, even if that time is on the phone, it can be an extremely comforting destresser.
- Fight the demons. There is always going to be that awful voice of doubt in your mind telling you that you won’t succeed, that you won’t get out of a difficult place. That voice is self-doubt, it’s the devil, it’s a demon hiding in your mind. No matter what your beliefs are, it’s an evil voice you need to silence. How? If it’s a career related voice, read a book on career success, confidence, or something specific to your field. Boost your confidence. Take action. Do something to silence that voice.
- Do something spiritual. Don’t let me lose you here! I’m personally a Christian, and I know not everyone is, but we all have some form of spirituality in our lives. Meditation, writing, reading, running,yoga, any of these things can be considered spiritual. It’s individual. For me, it’s prayer. I get peace from just spouting off to God about my stress and anxiety. It helps. A good cup of coffee and a good book helps.
- Remind yourself it’s going to be ok. Life gets hard, I’m not denying that. Things can get far worse before they get better, but remember the sunshine is coming. The days after the storm are coming. There will be joy and light in your life again. I like the way this comic says it:Life won’t always be easy, but there’s a finish line. There are goals. And you’ll make it.