One of the biggest triggers for my anxiety is change. It doesn’t matter if it’s good change or bad change. Any kind of change makes me out-of-my-mind anxious.
When the days get colder and greyer, I get anxious. Also when the seasons transition from winter to spring, I get anxious. I get anxious when I move somewhere new, when I start a new job, if I’m going through a break-up or getting into a new relationship. Even when I go on a vacation, I get anxious. And now, as I’m preparing to get married this month – which is supposed to be the happiest time of a girl’s life, right? – I’m more anxious than ever.
There’s the stress that comes from the planning –worrying if everything is going to go right, if I’m going to make everyone else happy, and knowing I’ll be the center of attention. And then there’s the stress that comes from the life changing event of actually being married.
There’s the stress of deciding whether or not I should change my last name, when “Monica Drake” has been my identity for the last 35 years. There’s the stress of having to think about someone else’s needs andsharing my finances, my health insurance,and, overall, just sharingmy life with another person. And then, promising to be with one person for the rest of my life, no matter how much I love that person, can be scary and stressful.
So why can change affect some people so harshly – even when the change is good? That’s because it’s a common symptom of anxiety disorder to have difficultly handling uncertainty and unpredictability. And, with change comes uncertainty. Other symptoms of anxiety include the fear of making the wrong decision and over-thinking all possible worst-case outcomes – which, of course, only intensifies when dealing with change.
There’s actually a name for this “fear of change.” It’s called Metathesiophobia, and it causes people to avoid changing their circumstances due to being afraid of the unknown. I’ve personally dealt with this my entire life, and, when I was younger, my mom gave me advice that I try to remember when dealing with change. And that’s to focus on one day and one task and one decision at a time.
Instead of thinking about how I’m going to make it through the week, the month, or the year, I try to focus on that single day. With each day that passes, the change in my life feels less and less significant until this new way of life becomes my norm and part of my comfort zone, just like the changes before it.
Some other ways to cope with change include journaling, meditating, creating a vision board, setting attainable goals, talking with family and friends, and thinking of change as a “new possibility” instead of being fearful of it.
Change is a part of life, but, if you find change to be overwhelming, it’s important that you seek help. Talk to your primary care physician, who can treat mental health conditions or refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist for additional help.
Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Monica Drake