Getting a new job, moving to a new city or country, getting married, the end of a relationship, death or simply growing older are a few of the major life changes that have one thing in common: transition. Regardless of whether it is good or bad, transition means extensive adjustment and a heavy load of uncertainty. Transitions are important, even though they feel unpleasant. They help us grow, learn, and most of all, adapt. Depending on the type of person you are, the transition can create stress, and feelings such as fear, anxiety, frustration or anger.
The term “stress”, as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change”. So, at the most basic level, stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation or a life event. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. The adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases the sugar in your bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. These hormones give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.
Living with long-term stress and feeling of anxiety can impact your physical and emotional health. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are generally treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two. However, in recent years there is an increasing number of people who self-treat themselves with CBD oil which could naturally calm your overactive mind.
Since we cannot predict how big the impact of a certain life event will be for us, even though the stress of moving is real, in this article we are outlining a few ways to minimize and manage stress during transitions. Hopefully, they will help you find peace in the middle of a significant transformation.
Exercise and Healthy diet
It is not unknown that exercise and a healthy diet have great positive impact on reducing stress and relieving anxiety. Exercise and other physical activity (for example just walking) produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Even a little bit of physical activity can make a difference. For example, about five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects. In addition, exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine, both known to affect mood. Serotonin is associated with positive feelings of well-being and norepinephrine is related to alertness and energy.
A healthy diet can also help you reduce stress. Certain foods provide comfort and actually increase levels of hormones in the body that naturally fight stress. Other types of foods and beverages can reduce stress by lowering the levels of hormones that trigger it. For example certain herbs, like lavender and chamomile, have been shown to have a relaxing effect; or dark chocolate, which is also rich in antioxidants, can help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones in the body. Other types of foods such as avocado, fish, nuts or foods rich with carbohydrates or vitamin C can boost the feelings of wellbeing and significantly reduce stress and anxiety. On the other hand, alcohol and caffeine are commonly known to increase feelings of anxiety.
Let yourself feel your emotions and embrace the change
Allow yourself to be angry, sad, lost or scared. Think of your feelings as waves in the ocean. They come and go, rise and fall. No feeling lasts forever. Instead of fighting what you are feeling, acknowledge how you feel and accept that this is a part of the transition. Try to keep things in perspective and remember that it takes courage to go through transitions. Each moment that you continue to move forward is a testament to your strength.
Also, allow yourself to cry. Researchers believe that crying is beneficial for humans and could reduce the levels of chemicals in the body, which could, in turn, reduce stress. When we cry in response to stress, our tears contain a number of stress hormones and other chemicals. Have you ever felt the relaxed state of your body once you have stopped crying? In addition, crying also helps you to move from feeling upset or sad to feeling better and more positive.
Once you have acknowledged and felt these emotions, let them go. Focusing on these feelings for a long period of time can make you feel even more anxious. Try to embrace the change that is happening to you. Give yourself time and think about how this transition could lead to new experiences that may be beneficial to your life. Undoubtedly you have heard of the saying “When one door closes, another one opens…”.
Try complementary and alternative medicine
- Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard medical care. Most commonly used complementary and/or alternative approaches to easing feelings of tension and stress are aromatherapy, massage, meditation, acupuncture etc.
- Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that uses natural plant extracts to promote health and well-being. Lavender, rosemary, lemon have traditionally been used to ease stress and promote feelings of relaxation. Through this treatment, essential oils are either breathed in through your nose or put on your skin. They can be used as part of a massage, added to an incense burner or poured into your bath water. How do they relieve anxiety? Through activating certain areas of your brain, which play a role in your emotions. They could also have an impact on your hypothalamus, which may respond to the oil by creating feel-good brain chemicals like serotonin.
- Massage therapy relaxes the mind, works wonders on tense, knotted muscles and will also release feel-good endorphins into the body. Research has shown that massage can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, relax your muscles and increase the production of endorphins, your body's natural “feel good” chemical. Serotonin and dopamine are also released through massage, and the result is a feeling of calm relaxation that makes stress much easier to overcome.
- Meditation can be defined as a set of techniques that are intended to encourage a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. In meditation, you go beyond the noisy thoughts in the mind and enter a state of restful alertness. You are in a state of deep rest, yet your mind is fully alert and awake. In this state, your body experiences many healing effects such as decreased heart rate, normalization of blood pressure, deeper breathing, reduced production of stress hormones (including cortisol and adrenaline), strengthened immunity, more efficient oxygen use by the body and decreased inflammation in the body.
- Acupuncture is another type of CAM practice that may enhance personal wellness. This practice is based on the concept that medical conditions and mental health disorders are caused by an imbalance in energy. Acupuncture involves stimulating specific points on the body. This is most often done by inserting thin needles through the skin, to cause a change in the physical functions of the body. Though acupuncturists and medical professionals are unclear exactly why it helps with anxiety, research has noted that acupuncture appears to have a calming effect.
You are not alone
In life, there are times when you need to lean on your family and friends, regardless of the fact that you may believe that you can make it on our own. Give them access to your experience or your challenge. It does not matter whether they have advice for you or not. The point, really, is just to know that you are not alone. In addition, talking with others going through the same thing also helps. If you don’t have a support system or if you feel you need additional help, a wise thing to do is to talk with a therapist. S/He should be able to give you additional ideas for managing anxiety due to transitions.