How to cope with change and reduce your anxiety

According to Darwin’s Origins of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives, it is not the strongest that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is able to best adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Megginson, ‘Lessons from Europe for American Business’, Southwestern Social Science Quarterly (1963) 44(1): 3-13, at p. 4.

The one constant that the covid-19 pandemic has bought us is change

  • Change in guidance

  • Change to our lifestyles

  • Change in work situations

  • Change in schooling

  • Change to our social calender

  • Change in our freedom

  • Changing tiers

  • Change, change, change.

This change has been happening rapidly, with u turns in the changes and new change again and again, it has been difficult for us to keep up with the amount of change in such a short space of time.

However, in life the one constant we can be sure of is change, so although the pandemic has bought us a sea of change it is perhaps the speed of change that has been difficult to cope with.

Learning to cope with change is not only important right now, but it is important to be able to cope with life in general.

Sometimes we know a change will occur, while other times, the current situation being a key example change comes suddenly and unexpectedly.

Many people spend a great deal of effort trying to avoid change, but change will inevitably catch up to you.

Life in general will be peppered with change

Starting new jobs, moving to a new house, relationships ending, or loss of a loved one

road interchange
Change is inevitable

Being able to cope with change is sometimes called resilience

So how can you build your resilience to help you cope better with the changes that the current pandemic brings and your life in general will bring.

1. Evaluate Your Level of Control

It can be easy to become fixated on events over which we have no power, or people who might never change their actions or attitude. Rather than focus on blaming others or moving the unmovable, resilient people take a step back and look at what they can control.

To evaluate your level of control over a situation, you can ask yourself, “What can I take responsibility for in this situation?”

In the pandemic we have control over hands, face, space, we have control over who we socialise with and who we do not, where we shop, where we spend our time.

Look for opportunities to empower yourself and work towards the change that is possible for you, so you don’t feel so stuck in change you have no control over..

2. Acknowledge and Accept change comes with loss

Change will very often involve loss, currently we are experiencing a lot of loss of our liberties along with loss of workplace colleagues, loss of social interaction. Loss of living life as we knew it.

In life change involves losses, such as a death, the loss of a job, or a relationship ending. Even positive changes, like a graduation or a job change, can make you feel sad, being associated with loss.

Don’t push away any grief you might feel at these times acknowledge and accept the loss and understand it as part of the change process

Man thinking
Distorted thoughts can lead to anxiety

3. Check Your Thought Patterns

In times of change, it is easy for your mind to cut corners. You might start to distort your thoughts i.e., see everything in black or white, or assume the worst will happen

But if you take the time to examine your thought patterns and assess how rational they are, you might be able to look more realistically at things without distorting your thoughts.

You can also generate more positive thoughts if you take the time to remind yourself about changes you successfully navigated in the past.

Make a list of ways you have been resilient in your life and consider what traits and actions might be able to help you through the current challenge.

Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, to help you feel more empowered to meet what lies ahead.

Check out my challenge starting 11th Jan where we look at ways to reframe your negative thoughts

4.Be in the Here and Now

While it is important to look to the past to find your strengths, sometimes in times of change you worry about what the future will bring, you forget to be in the here and now and observe what is happening around you.

Bring yourself back to the present, pay attention to how your body is responding to the stress, and set aside time every day to relax, take some deep breaths, and bring your focus back to the here and now and the things that you have control of

smiling boy
look for the opportunities change brings

5. Look for the opportunities

The most resilient people see change as an opportunity rather than something to fear.

Changes in life allow you to consider where your priorities lie. How do you really want to spend your time on earth? What is really important to you?

We have witnessed a lot of this over the pandemic with people realising they want to spend more time with their families, slow down life a little or focus less on the material things in life.

Change can help you gain a clear sense of your goals and values; this will help your mind and body to be much more resilient when it comes to the stressors of change.

6. As always talk with someone,

Prioritizing how you deal life’s changes means not being afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Humans are social creatures by nature, so you were not built to withstand every sudden event in life without the support of others.

Currently many people are experiencing similar changes to yourself, talk to family and friends who are experiencing similar changes to yourself, do not be afraid to talk to a counsellor or other mental health professional about building resilience.

You cannot avoid change, but you can learn to live a life of resilience by embracing change and seeing the challenges as opportunities.

In the current climate we know change is inevitable and if you can find ways to navigate the change and approach it in a more realistic and resilient way you can reduce the anxiety and stress you feel about change.

Laura Knight is a qualified and experienced Counsellor and a registered member of BACP (The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)

She is an approved Anxiety UK Therapist and has her own private practice SeeClear Counselling, in Poole Dorset.

She can offer face to face, telephone and video counselling sessions

Laura now focuses on working with adults who struggle with Anxiety within her private practice, working with them to reduce the scary physical and emotional symptoms they experience and help them change their negative thinking patterns so they can lead a calmer life.

For more information about Laura please visit her website

Or visit her Facebook page

e-mail Tel 07975733029

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