There is change that we have planned for and have accepted because we see the value in it. There is also change that is unplanned that causes us to feel vulnerable and anxious about the unknowns of the direction it is taking us in. This is called unexpected change and it can have negative side effects on our mental health.
The Impacts On Mental Health
Everyone reacts differently to unexpected change. Some individuals are better able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ presented by it despite being unclear or unhappy as a result. While others struggle more with this resiliency and have a flight-fight-freeze-or collapse response that the central nervous system experiences.
For those individuals who find themselves having the latter response, this can be damaging to their mental health. This flight-fight-freeze-or collapse response can contribute to anxiety and depression trough repercussions such as sleeplessness, headaches, physical pain, obsessiveness, and using things to numb this experience like drugs and alcohol, sex, violence, and food.
The brain and central nervous system can become locked into the fight-flight-freeze-or collapse pattern, even when the unexpected change has passed. This further extends the trauma of the change and this can last for years if it’s not dealt with. This can greatly affect the different types of relationships a person may have, as well as self-esteem, emotional security and what a person believes is possible in various areas of their life.
How to Deal and Make the Most of Unexpected Change
Often it is in these times of unexpected change in what appears as a misfortunate situation that we grow the most. We learn valuable things such as something new about ourselves and others, a situation, or a fresh perspective. These learnings can also help us land in a place of understanding.
Below are 5 ways to help you deal with unexpected change and land in a place of understanding:
Meditating is a great way of helping combat some of the repercussions of a flight-fight-freeze-or collapse response that can lead to anxiety and/or depression. It helps to calm the individual’s mind and lower their stress levels.
2. Leaning on a Supportive Person
Dealing with unexpected changes can sometimes be too much to bear on our own. Reach out to a friend, partner, or family member who you know can help support you in these challenging times. Remember, a therapists main goal is to help and support you. If you are interested in learning more about how a therapist can help you work through the unexpected change in your life, book your free 30 minute consultation.
3. Self Nurturing
Self nurturing is a way of staying in tune with how you’re feeling, taking care of yourself, and having healthy boundaries. This can be in the form of daily check-ins with yourself, maintaining a healthy sleeping routine, or knowing when to say no when you feel yourself being spread too thin.
4. Cognitive exercises
These are exercises that help you examine your conscious and unconscious dialogue as well as how this dialogue makes you feel and which ones you allow vs. which ones you try to numb. Acknowledging these feelings and dialogue will allow you to incorporate strategies in your life to help ward off negative dialogue and feelings.
5. Journal Writing
Journal writing is an effective way to clear your head and say what you need to without the worry of others’ reactions. Take a few minutes at the start or end of your day to write down some of your thoughts, you’ll be surprised at how effective this is at taking weight off of your shoulders.
It is not possible to predict and plan for all change in your life, there inevitably is going to be unexpected change. These 5 new strategies you learnt will allow you to deal with it effectively and get back to living your life optimally. Curious to learn more strategies or want ones specifically tailored to you? Book a 30 minute consultation with me to learn more.