Life Changes & Anxiety
How To Embrace Chance Through CBT Therapy
Are upcoming changes causing you stress and worry? If so, you are not alone. When things in our life change, our sense of security is often challenged. There are many types of transitions; some involve loss, while others may be happy. Marriage, divorce, new parenthood, divorce, death of loved one, retirement, a new job, moving to a new city – all come with their own struggles as we have to find new ways of dealing with an unfamiliar situation. Over the course of our lifetime, we can expect to experience a considerable amount of change, both negative and positive. Sometimes those changes are anticipated and welcome, other times they are not. Sometimes life changes can be unexpected and sudden. But no matter how change happens, transitions can be difficult.
Yet change is a necessary and inevitable part of life. Research shows that transitions, even positive transitions, can be stressful and contribute to anxiety, depression and other stress reactions. For a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), transitions may worsen symptoms.
So why do some people handle change constructively and even embrace change? They are resilient. Resilient individuals are able to bounce back when things fail to go exactly as planned, they accept uncertainty and thrive in the face of adversity. Resilience involves maintaining flexibility and balance in your life as you deal with stressful circumstances and traumatic events.
So how can you better handle change and transitions and increase resilience? Try the following:
- Avoid unhelpful thinking. Resilient people do not engage in catastrophic, all-or-nothing thinking. For example, after a relationship break-up a person might engage in negative thinking, such as, “My life is awful, no one will ever love me again and I’ll end up alone and lonely”. A resilient person, on the other hand, will be healthily sad, accept the break-up, begin to take constructive actions, be socially engaged and might eventually view the break-up as an opportunity to pursue other dreams.
- Know that the negative experience is not permanent. Realizing that a difficult event is temporary helps an individual with good coping skills to understand difficult times do not last forever. Research has found that resilient people find positive meaning in stressful times and use transitions and change as a time to strengthen oneself.
- Remain flexible. Psychological flexibility is a key component of resilience and good mental health. Flexibility helps us to shift mindsets and behaviors, adapt to various situations, compromise when necessary and maintain healthy balance. Being flexible helps us to be open, aware and committed to values that are important to us. Flexible people are open to different options when they face uncertainty.
- Maintain health. Resilient people look after their health even when they face difficult transitions and change. They know the importance of engaging in regular exercise, eating well and getting enough sleep.
- Practice mindfulness. Research has found that those who regularly practice mindfulness are more resilient. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease ruminative thinking and, when practiced regularly, it makes positive neural changes so that you are more resilient in the face of difficulties and change.
- Have a strong support network. Studies show that positive, high-quality social support can increase resilience to stressful situations. The American Psychological Association writes in its resilience report: “Many studies show that the primary factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. Relationships that create love and trust, provide role models and offer encouragement and reassurance, help bolster a person’s resilience.”
As the saying goes: Change is the only constant. Every life transition provides us with opportunities for learning and gives us a chance to grow. Even difficulties such as a painful divorce, the death of a loved one or a job loss can make us reexamine our values, relationships and priorities. Almost always, our goals are clearer and life is much richer following a challenging transition.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, we help you to cope with life’s unavoidable changes and transitions. Our goal is to help increase resilience by developing a healthy view of change. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you to gain the tools and skills to handle life transitions and learn how to navigate changes more effectively in the future.
Speak With An Orlando CBT Therapist