How to Manage Anxiety During Periods of Transition
We might find ourselves going through a transitional process when we are traveling, moving homes, in-between careers, in-between relationships or simply searching for greater meaning or purpose in our lives and if this transitional process is acknowledged and navigated correctly it can result in significant growth and the transformation of our whole Self.
There is a period in which something has come to end, yet the “new” has not yet begun. During this space we may experience discomfort, a sense of chaos, disharmony and intense emotions such as fear and anxiety. This is because the structures in our environment and our usual routines which stabilized us and helped us to feel grounded have dissolved away. This have left a void and an expansive space of the unknown.
Within this void we fear not knowing where we are and what is going to happen next. We want to quickly ground ourselves and find a sense of security or comfort. We may rush into the next career, the next relationship or try and “fix” what we feel is in turmoil before us. Yet, it is important not to rush into the next stage of our transition or to try and “fix” this stage we’re in. We also shouldn’t turn away from the fear or anxiety that comes with this period of time as there is a huge amount of learning that can take place when we sit with the discomfort we are facing.
We experience change every day. Nothing in life is static and nothing ever stays the same. However, a significant life transition is a process that goes beyond these usual day to day changes. A transition is an internal psychological and spiritual process which may be caused by shifts in our external environment, but it may also be triggered by an indescribable and intuitive need to transform our entire way of being. As Psychosynthesis Coach Barbara Veale Smith states in “Seeing through Separation & Embracing Unity”:
a dawning awareness of the need for change arises, either suddenly or over time, which becomes known…through an impulse or desire, a thought, feeling, intuitive understanding, sensation or image
If you are going through period of transition where you feel fearful and anxious, here are some techniques and mindful exercises you can try to stabilize and feel more grounded during this time.
First, make sure to take care of your needs during this time. You might need to spend more time alone to process and reflect on the transition and changes that are going on. If this is the case, make space for this and don’t force yourself to be “OK”. You probably need to be more gentle with yourself than usual. Do things which you consider to be acts of self-care — such as going for walks in nature, attending yoga classes, exercising, having massages or simply take part in the hobbies and activities that you know fulfill you.
Find ways to form structures around yourself that ground you. If you are seeking connection rather than being alone then reach out to friends or make connection with people which will help you to feel a sense of belonging. Form a routine and find activities or events to go to which will also nourish you.
Stay with the sense of fear you are experiencing and don’t try and force it away. Make time each day to meditate so you can sit with your emotions. A mindful exercise I find really helpful is locating the fear in your body. What is the physical sensation of this fear? Communicate with it and ask it why it is present. Be compassionate towards it and welcome it into your body. Every emotion you experience is trying to support you in some way, and this is also the case with the fear and anxiety you might be experiencing now.
You can also meditate and work to ground yourself using a guided visualization. For the visualization you connect with the energy of the earth to help ground and support you during this transitional time. You imagine roots going into the earth from the base of your spine or the area of your body that is in direct contact with the ground. Notice how these roots create a strong energetic connection with the earth and also become aware of how you are being fully supported and held by the physical ground below you.
With this practice you are able to maintain a centered and firm presence despite external events that might be challenging.
When you’re going through a transition it might feel like so many things in your life have come to an end, and there is even a tendency to question your very sense of self. Remember that although there have been many shifts, there are still many constants running throughout your life — friends, family and your core Self that are supporting you through this time.
Look for the deeper meaning behind your experience. Even if you can’t make sense of it right now remember that every period of transition is a catalyst for growth and healing. Perhaps your transition is giving you the space to sit, to rest and heal. It might feel like you need to rush forward, but if you have been given an opportunity to take “time out” then make the most of this time and know it is OK to rest.
If you feel the opposite and that everything is actually in a state of chaos, then perhaps you’re still in the earlier stages of your transition and things have not calmed down yet. Know that things will begin to settle and this time of turbulence is allowing things to come to the surface and break open, so that deeper healing and transformation can take place.
Try the mindful exercises mentioned here and make sure to establish a routine for yourself. Remember that every day is different and this is especially the case during times of transition — so connect with what you need on each day and be guided by the intuition of your body. Stay present with each moment, and you will soon reach a new stage on your journey.
De Vitto, J. (2019). How to Manage Anxiety During Periods of Transition. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-manage-anxiety-during-periods-of-transition/