What does anxiety around change look like?

What does anxiety around change look like?

Posted by Fran Mobbs on 25 January, 2022

Change can be a sign of something exciting to come. It could be a big lifestyle change such as starting a new job or having your first child, or to something much smaller, like going out to a different pub, or taking a different bus journey home. While change may be exciting and something to look forward to, it can also be anxiety provoking and stressful. TALKWORKS, a confidential NHS talking therapy service, can help anyone over the age of 18 is living in Devon, who may need support managing anxiety around change.


What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, which can be either mild or severe. It can impact your day to day life as it can stop you from doing the things that you love. Anxiety often comes from uncertainty - we may feel that the less we know about a situation, the higher the likelihood something bad might happen. Change naturally means uncertainty, and this is why many changes, even the best and most exciting ones can lead to anxiety. It’s ok to feel anxious about a new job, first date or about going on holiday, but it’s also important not to let this anxiety stop us from trying new experiences. 


What can CHANGE ANXIETY look like?

Experiencing anxiety around change can be different for everyone, but may include;

  • Excessively worrying: worrying day and night about all of the different variables and things that may go wrong, and struggling to find a solution
  • Being overcautious: writing lists for every scenario and stressing over the different outcomes.
  • Managing the change in a specific way: for example, going to a new place, but only with that one person they feel completely safe around
  • Avoidance: avoiding the change and trying not to think about it

Most of us will probably do a little bit of all of these things when we are feeling anxious. So when does normal anxiety about change become a problem? Well, if it is stopping you from trying something new, significantly limiting the way you do things or taking you huge amounts of time to prepare, then it might be time to address it.


How can we learn to cope with change anxiety?

When addressing anxiety about change, often we have to start to accept that there will be a certain amount of uncertainty, and learn to trust ourselves to be able to deal with the unexpected. This can be hard to do, but taking small steps and practicing over time is the best way to give it a go.
For example you might try:

  • Asking yourself when faced with a worry, ‘is there anything reasonable I can do about this right here right now?’ If the answer is no then try re-focussing your attention on the here and now, what can you see or hear around you?
  • Testing out what happens if you try doing something different to the usual way you would cope. This will really help you build your trust in yourself to deal with un-expected situations. You can start small and build up. For example, what happens if you leave to meet your friend on time rather than planning to arrive 30 minutes early everywhere? Or if going on holiday is too scary what about a day trip to a town you’ve never been to before?

Learning to embrace change can be hard, and there is no reason you should do it alone. If your anxiety around change is limiting your life then TALKWORKS can help you to get back on track. At TALKWORKS, our qualified psychological wellbeing practitioners and psychological therapists can work with you to understand what you are struggling with and find a solution to help you feel better again. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a really effective way to do this. You can work with a TALKWORKS practitioner to identify which areas of your life the anxiety is affecting the most and help you take steps to change this. Talking to a therapist may in itself feel like a big, anxiety provoking change, but what if it didn’t go badly? What if it opened up lots of new and exciting possibilities for you? You can self-refer to our service online or by calling 0300 555 3344.




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