Change brings uncertainty, and that can be daunting. When something new happens, our brain is hardwired to react nervously when out of the comfort zone of having prior knowledge and experience. You may tense up in such situations, go into fight or flight mode, or experience a more subtle level of anxiety such as tightness in the stomach or chest. Unfortunately in this state, you may block yourself from your highest potential in situations.
Although this reaction is normal in the human brain, it is possible to change it when you catch it happening, as well as prevent it from occurring in the future. Ayurveda and its sister science Yoga teach simple methods and philosophies to help us see change for what it truly is: an opportunity for Joyfulness. These timeless tools can help you embrace newness as an opportunity for exploration and excitement rather than apprehension and anxiety.
If you are facing change with apprehension and worry, what can you do?
1. Release the tension
- Breathe deeply 4 or 5 times and stretch high with fingers intertwined at full arm stretch above your head or with palms together. Hold for 20-30 seconds and then relax. Hold your interlaced fingers behind your neck and lean back. Feel tension drain away.
- Draw a warm bath, adding Ayurvedic essential oils according to your dosha and soak, breathing the aroma deeply. Stay in the moment consciously relaxing, breathing gently and rhythmically.
- Improve sleep by rubbing the soles of your feet before bed for a few minutes with warm coconut or sesame oil. Use your fingertips with soothing strokes. Press points on the toes and heels with gentle firmness. According to Ayurveda, sleeping well is half the battle won for wellness. (Protect your sheets with cotton socks.)
2. Expand and uplift through movement
- Exercise to increase your heart rate, so that feel-good endorphins are released. Choose whatever method suits you, such as biking, dancing, jogging, an aerobics class or even some simple jumping jacks.
- Connect with Nature: If at all possible, spend time where Nature surrounds you. The sound of flowing water, the sough of leaves in the breeze, the beauty of flowers and chirping of birds, will elevate your mood. If you don’t have access to this environment, try creating it someplace in your home or at your work space by adding plants and playing a natural soundtrack.
- Take a non-threatening break from routine: maybe a massage, a swim, or just a game with your pets. Let yourself be spontaneous and play even for just a short time – feel your mind lighten and brighten!
3. Calm your mind consciously
- Cut back on stimulants: coffee, alcohol, smoking, carbonated beverages, sodas and processed sugar.
- Try the meditation of silence: close your eyes and loosely connect the fingers of both hands. Sit as you want. Once comfortable stay physically still. Let your mind roam completely free. In the beginning like a wild horse, it will rage in every direction. Then slowly thoughts will slow and the Mind will still. In this stillness of the utter silence within you will find calm.
- Alternate nostril breathing: a powerful calming Pranayama technique is the Nadi Shodhana. Sit comfortably with eyes closed. Focus only on your breath. Close the right nostril with the right thumb, and breathe in deeply with the left nostril. Close the left nostril with the last 2 fingers, release your thumb and Breathe out completely. Keeping the left nostril closed, repeat the sequence. This completes one round of this calming practice. Do this for at least 5 minutes everyday. End each practice with deep breaths through both nostrils.
- Take a Savasana, or Corpse Pose: this Yogic posture always concludes an asana practice though you can use it anytime. Lying on your back, spread your arms and legs at around 45 degrees. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Relax completely and concentrate on your breath. Look for tension spots and consciously release them until your whole being is relaxed. Stay in this for about 20 minutes.
4. Now you are ready to take action!
- Write down your thoughts and feeling: journal about what is making the change so threatening. What is the worst that can happen? Will that really end your world? Often putting situations in this perspective allows the mind to prioritize what is worth feeling anxious and what may be an overreaction.
- Enlighten yourself – knowledge is power: familiarity breeds comfort. It is natural to react to a new strange situation with anxiety. Work to make it less strange through research and talking to other people about it.
- Find the silver lining: Could moving to a new city be a chance to explore new and exciting sights, sounds, people? Look into the past: has change always been bad in your life? Probably not. Ask yourself why this shouldn’t be a change for the better. Think “excitement” rather than “apprehension.”
- Try scripting your possible first encounter with the new situation or person: figure out what could happen, how it will begin and how you would like the first encounter to end.