Now that we’ve established anxiety can be just like the Blob of the 1980s horror flick (ya know, other than the whole jelly-like substance part of it), let’s explore some of the specific nutrition of anxiety; triggers that initiate the experience of anxiety or that help to maintain it. To check out the previous post, click here: The Blob of Anxiety.
Change is one of life’s inevitabilities. Our lives, our worlds, our relationships are ever-changing. In good and bad ways.
Sometimes we march calmly, e v e n l y t o w a r d change.
Sometimes we sprint past it, not stopping to notice its impact.
And sometimes we hide from it.
Trying to slow down its course.
Delaying its inevitable passage.
With any of these scenarios, we may feel a mix of excitement and trepidation. We may feel scared and uncomfortable.
Even when it’s a change we have yearned for. Even when it’s a change we are happy about.
If you are approaching or anticipating a change, are in the middle of a change, or are in the space following a recent change, know that it is normal and expected to feel a rise in anxiety. This rise is your body’s way of preparing and adjusting itself for the change. Whether it be a big change like moving to a new city or a small change in your daily routine like traffic, change feeds anxiety.
Consider how you might create some space for that anxiety to exist while your body and spirit adjust to the change occurring. Be particularly aware of times of transition---endings, beginnings, separations, attachments—which may also bring with them the need to grieve what once was so you can allow for what is now present or coming.
Consider the following types of transitions identified by Nancy Schlossberg. If you want to read more about coping with transition and change, check out Dr. Schlossberg’s website by clicking on her name above. For each of the 6 types of transitions below, I’ve included examples. I encourage you to consider what transitions you might be experiencing in your life currently or that may be approaching. Consider how you might create space for those transitions to occur. And into that space, consider how you might infuse some warmth, gentleness, compassion, kindness, and patience.
These are transitions we choose. Examples include deciding to move, to change jobs, to get married. Remember, even changes we choose and desire can create anxiety!
These are transitions we do not choose and that may occur with little or no warning at all. Examples include car accidents, sudden death of a loved one, or an unplanned pregnancy. Because our bodies did not expect or anticipate these surprise transitions, we may experience a sense of shock, denial, and in some cases, trauma in response.
These are transitions related to anticipated events that never end up happening. Examples include an expected promotion that does not come through, infertility, or pregnancy loss. Because of the nature of events that do not occur, it is easy to underestimate their impact. A nonevent can be just as impactful and distressing as an event. Our hopes, wishes, plans that may have been attached to the nonevent may need space to be processed and grieved. If you are experiencing a nonevent, allow yourself space to grieve the loss of what never was.
Life on hold
These transitions relate to an event or change one may expect to happen that does not occur at the anticipated time. Examples include a terminally ill loved one who lives much longer than expected or a long engagement. The process of waiting and the anticipation of the event or change can take a toll on us and create emotional fatigue. As you await the future change, consider using this time of limbo to prepare for the expected change and to enjoy the time you have as fully as possible before the change occurs.
These transitions are ones that occur so slowly that you may not notice the change is occurring or has occurred until well after the change is complete. The transition is almost without your awareness. An example includes the changes related to weight gain or loss, or other changes in your body’s appearance or function. If you realize your body has changed in some way, allow yourself time and space to reorient yourself with your new body. Before rushing to judgment or fear, consider how this change may be one that your body needed and that may reflect the natural course of growth and change that your body is following.
This refers to when 2 significant transitions occur at the same time, which might amplify the impact of both. Experiencing the death of a loved one can be tremendously difficult but experiencing it at the same time as another major life change is occurring--loss of a job, separation from a partner—can be even more taxing on one’s emotional stores. The mutual impact of both events may require a more intentional and focused attunement to one’s self-care needs. During these times of multiple life changes, consider how you might be able to take breaks from the changes, how you might engage in activities that promote relaxation and rejuvenation, and how you might seek out relationships that support your wellness.
Change is closely linked with the next nutrition for anxiety: Lack of Predictability.