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Managing Anxiety While In Transition

Managing Anxiety While In Transition

Transition is a moment in life when you're between two comfortable situations: an old and a new one. That in-between can be very uncomfortable and comes in various forms: changing a habit, facing the unknown, learning a new skill or language, joining a new company or group, moving, living in a new country, etc.

Transition makes your stomach flip, your mouth dry, your body feel awkward or powerless and your brain function improperly.  

Transitions are important, even though they feel unpleasant. They help us grow, learn, and most of all, adapt. If there were no transitions, we would be as stiff as a twig and we would brake at any curve. Knowing that transitions are unavoidable, what's the best way to get through them?

One side effect of transition is anxiety. Anxiety manifests itself through nervous behaviors such as eating too much or too little, watching too much television, playing games, fidgeting, procrastination, tension, pacing back and forth, worry, uneasiness and fear. Don't mistake anxiety and fear, as the latter is a response to an immediate threat, real or perceived. Anxiety is often a mix of emotions triggered by the expectation of a future threat.

[Related: Overcoming Overwhelm In Your Life and Business]

The problem with anxiety is that if you succumb to it, it takes over like a snowball sliding down a hill. It grows to a point where you have no power to stop it. It's important to control anxiety before it it becomes unwieldy.

Here are some good habits that can help you deal with anxiety while in transition.

Cognitive tips:

  • Once you notice that the flow of your thoughts or words is growing quicker, stop yourself by breathing deeply. Consider these thoughts like clouds coming and going in the sky. Don’t get attached to them.
  • When you start to doubt or ruminate, stop and check how you can gain control. What you can do to feel the power within the transition?
  • When you procrastinate, find a friend to talk to rather than continuing the behavior. The act of talking may help you feel less alone and see that what felt huge is merely a hurdle that you can step over. Your friend may also offer some insights.
  • Every morning, tell yourself one true compliment when you see yourself in the mirror. 
  • Before you go to bed, remind yourself of three things that went well during the day. This will help grow your positive and confidence muscles.

Physical tips:

  • When you feel muscle tension, breath in the tension to relieve it, or breath five times deeply. (Make sure to breath through your diaphragm.)
  • Exercise regularly and for at least 20 minutes a day. I recommend Tai Chi for managing stress.
  • Take good care of your sleep. Don't exercise late at night. Don't eat too much before going to bed, nor anything too spicy, and be sure to get enough sleep. Lack of sleep makes you see things through a dramatic lens and your sleep-deprived brain can't cope as much with stress.

[Related: 5 Ways to Beat Social Anxiety in Business Meetings]

Eating habits:

  • Eat a little dark chocolate. The antioxidants and magnesium in it helps reduce stress.
  • Eat cashew nuts. The tryptophan, Vitamin B and magnesium in them is good for a healthy mood.
  • Drink five cups of green tea per day. The L-theanine in it combats symptoms of depression.

If these tips don't help, then it may be time seek professional help. In the meantime, find a way to learn all you can find about the new situation you are dealing with so that it becomes familiar. After all, it is hard to stress about something you're  familiar with.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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