With both academic and career demands at an all time high, social media creating a shared consciousness and a regressive political landscape, it's easy to see why studies claim that we are the generation most at risk of depression and anxiety. Which, to be honest, is a pretty depressing thought.
Today’s technologically advanced society moves so quickly that change, unfortunately, is inevitable. From a simple change in routine to major life changes such as moving to a new city or starting university, it can run riot through your mind. Sometimes just the idea of having to deal with an upcoming hardship is enough to make me set up camp at a friend's house for a week or spend every weekend pushing my alcoholic limits.
See, stupidly big life changes and sometimes seemingly irrelevant, small changes create an internal monologue of paranoia for most people. Maybe you've left home for the first time and the prospect of being all alone, fending for yourself for the first time, leaves you with constant nausea. Or maybe you’ve started a new job and waking up for 8am each day is making you feel exhausted and miserable.
Whatever you’re going through, it's guaranteed that thousands if not millions of others have experienced the same low points that you are dwelling on right now. Change affects everyone in different ways and we all have vastly different ways of dealing with it. That being said, it’s important to understand that just because your friends have easily dealt with something you are about to face, doesn’t mean you’re weak for internally suffering more or tackling it with a different approach.
The hardest part of dealing with shifts in life is staying objective. It's far too easy to allow the issue to overwhelm you until it feels like the whole world is on your shoulders.
It's common for our personal struggles to dominate our mindset. Believe it or not, it's an evolutionary defence mechanism. In primitive times, the human mind would fixate on its experience of fear and pain to eliminate risk and ensure survival. The problem contemporary society has is that we are no longer fleeing from lions and bears but nonetheless, we have still maintained that basic instinct to dwell on what concerns us.
There are plenty of ways to deal with change, especially if it came out of the blue, was unwanted or not as you expected.
There are things in life we just have no control over. We can’t control what people think, how they react or the majority of the circumstances that we encounter. Rather than stressing out about it, try to just let it go and let it be. Sometimes it is what it is and no amount of trying can change it. When you allow yourself to let it go, you open yourself up to a lot of free mental space.
A lot of the time, things are only as bad as we perceive them to be. Okay it might be really upsetting that you didn’t get into uni, but what are your other options? Didn’t get the promotion- then what can you take from it? Your relationship may have ended with someone but what new experiences can you have now you’re single? As they say, as one door closes, a million others start to open for you instead.
Allowing life to occur passively probably won’t get you very far. Think to yourself what you want and where you want to go and begin to work out how to get there. You didn’t get into your chosen university but you want to work in journalism; start blogging, ask local newspapers and websites if you can write for free. You didn’t get that promotion; ask for feedback, find a mentor to help learn the skills you need to progress. Your relationship ended; work out what part you played and learn from those mistakes, get out there and continue to be social.
You’re having a shit time so you’re allowed to feel shit; cry, shout, eat some shit, have a pint. Be as sensitive, understanding and patient with yourself as you would do a close friend in a similar situation.
But, if you're simply frozen by the prospect of such a painful change, set yourself a basic task each day. Nothing too difficult.
Watch a stupid amount of comedy. Comedy can be the stimulus that drags your mind away from your concerns and into a state of light-heartedness. Even if you know you're forcing it, it's hard to remain fretting about life while Frankie Boyle compares Theresa May's smile to an owl coughing up a pellet.
So yeah...whatever life change you're dealing with you have full permission to feel shitty about it, but don't forget to give yourself permission to digest the change with an open mind. Life's only as good you make it folks.