Updated: Aug 14, 2020
At this moment in time, it’s safe to say we’ve all had to make some major readjustments to our everyday lives and establish a new ‘normal’. For some, it may have come as a surprise as to how well they’ve been able to adapt and cope during such a strange time, whereas for others the struggle will have felt very apparent and these last couple of months may have felt like an eternity.
Recently, it may have felt like one minute you’re completely overwhelmed with anxiety and can’t concentrate on your work due to much uncertainty and doubts over the future… and the next minute, all your worries have gone away, you’re enjoying the nice weather and this whole situation feels like you’re on holiday. Everyone’s experience of this will be different. This is a confusing time for sure! It’s hard to know where we stand with our own emotions when what we are experiencing feels so surreal. One thing I think is important when our emotions are all over the place is to allow ourselves to truly feel what we are feeling. It can be quite easy to distract ourselves and suppress emotions that we don’t want to feel. This makes sense, due to the negative connotations we give to certain emotions…..But…….we are feeling this for a reason and on some level, we need to accept these emotions and allow them to be processed. (See Steve’s article on That discomfort you’re feeling is grief for more on this) Recently, I have noticed an increase in anxiety in myself whenever there is talk of upcoming change. Surprisingly, this even occurs when the change is relatively good. Why is that? Have I adapted so well to this new ‘normal’? Am I worried about what life will look like when it does return to ‘normal’? Or am I, like many others, just trying to manage the uncertainty of what is next? So, how do we navigate this change?
Here are a few suggestions that may be of use:
One day at a time I think it is important to take each day at a time. It can be easy to get lost in thought and catastrophise about the future. But if we try and take each day as it comes, perhaps our emotions will do the same and won’t feel so overpowering.
Own your emotions
Secondly, as stated above. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling. You could acknowledge this to yourself by naming the emotion or write this down. You may not always know why you feel the way you do, but that’s OK too. Just allow yourself to be.
Journaling is a great way to reflect on how we are doing, process our emotions and relieve ourselves of the burden of thoughts racing through our minds. Try transferring this onto a page, then shutting it to place a boundary between you and your journal entry and see if this helps give you space from that thought or feeling.
Most importantly and often forgotten….remember to breathe. Take some time to zone into your body and pay close attention to your breathing. From controlled breathing to deep belly breathing, to just taking three deep breaths…..this can release huge amounts of tension our bodies may be holding and is the body’s natural stress reliever. Change can cause many different emotions to surface and the way we manage this will be different for everyone. It may be useful to hold in awareness that even if we feel anxious at the thought of change….often, it is the power we give the thought that is more impactful, than the change itself.
So give some of these tips a try and see if it helps, as we navigate through this time of change. “The Secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates
Ben Webster Student Wellbeing Advisor - Faculty of Arts & Humanities