New horizons: Beginnings, change and anxiety!
Updated: Aug 12
I have recently undergone some major changes in my life. I have relocated to another part of the country; left my previous role as a full-time counsellor in a hospice and on top of this, experienced my own challenges brought about by the coronavirus.
Like many people, I experience anxiety when faced with change and uncertainty. Often we think of anxiety as a bad thing to eliminate, but anxiety in itself isn't bad. Anxiety is a natural, human response to perceived threats. Change is understandably unsettling because we often don't have full control of the outcome of any change. We are not sure what is beyond that new horizon. Anxiety brought about from change can allow us to make quick judgements as to the outcome we desire, to analyse potential threats and decide on a course of action to take.
Unfortunately, anxiety is activated by the primeval part of the brain which, though it is designed to act quickly, can go rather overboard assessing all sorts of potential pitfalls out there, both real and imagined. We can get caught up in these frightening messages transmitted by our brains. This can cause us to avoid facing up to new challenges precipitated by change, or to freeze in fear and do nothing.
But we can use anxiety to ignite our inner resources to take appropriate action to face the challenges of change. Anxiety in short is not the problem, but how we respond to it can be. Avoiding the cause of your anxiety can make you feel worse because those uncomfortable feelings have a nasty habit of hanging around longer and become more intense when we fail to act appropriately to address them.
Even if we face the cause of anxiety, it doesn't mean our anxiety suddenly evaporates. It still acts as a warning system, protecting us from potential threats. But once we get comfortable in a new situation, our anxiety reduces of its own accord.
Can any of us then live a life without anxiety? The answer is no because we need it. We exist in a world that is marked by impermanence and constant change. Even changes that we desire, like having a new baby, getting married, even going on holiday, can lead to a whole host of anxieties. What we can do is learn to live alongside anxiety rather than resist it and learn from it. This is where counselling can help because in counselling we examine your usual patterns of handling anxiety and how effective they are, and if necessary find new ways you might approach anxiety in the future.