How to Deal With the Anxiety of Career Change in 5 Interesting and Fun Ways

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Career change can create anxiety, whether it's facing the unknown, approaching potential employers or taking a risk on a business idea. In this guest blog post, Ryan Rivera shares his top tips for how you can handle anxiety during your career change.

Changing careers is more than simply a stressful experience. Changing careers can actually cause significant amounts of anxiety. It's not simply a matter of worrying about whether you'll do a job well or your confidence that the decision is a good one – although these are all contributing factors – it's also the psychology of change.

All types of change cause some degree of anxiety, because familiarity represents a type of mental comfort that generally makes it easier to deal with the stresses of life. You get into a routine, and that routine is comfortable. Even if your last career was consistently stressful, it was still comfortable in its own strange way. When you change careers, this comfort is gone, and you're often left living with anxiety that is difficult to control.

Seeing a counsellor is often useful, but it's often not enough. You need a way to help control your anxiety in your regular life as well, preferably in a manner that isn't terribley time consuming or stressful in its own right. Below, you'll find five potentially enjoyable strategies for coping with that anxiety.

5 Fun and Easy Anxiety Coping Tips

Anxiety Bingo

There's a theory in Japanese psychology that you should embrace your anxiety and treat it like a friend rather than fight it. One way to do that is to create a type of anxiety bingo board. Create squares (and a free space, of course) representing some aspect of stress or anxiety you may experience with your career change, such as "anxiety talking to a new boss" or "anxiety while trying a new task." Turning your anxiety into a game can make it easier to see your anxiety as less of an antagonist. If you get a bingo, treat yourself to something fun/nice.

Art Coping

Self-expression is a powerful coping strategy, and when you experience a major life change, it's something you want to strongly consider. Taking up a task in your free time, like painting or sketching, can keep your mind focused on something creative and potentially help you cope more easily with your anxious feelings.

Relaxation Techniques

When you find some free time – both at work or at home – initiate relaxation techniques. There are potentially dozens of effective techniques (effective being relative – different techniques work better for different people) that are easy to implement and can cut down on your anxiety fairly easily. Deep breathing is one – taking 20 full, deep breaths breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth – can help. Others include visualization, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation, and more.

Creating Workplace Goals

Focus is another tool that helps people cope with career change, especially because new careers tend to create scattered thoughts. Create some goals within your workplace that you can shoot for regardless of your anxiety. For example, learning a new software program you need for your job by a certain date can be a goal, or reducing the speed it takes you to complete a regular task by X amount of minutes can be potentially beneficial. Make sure they're all attainable, and create sub goals to meet along the way.

Have Fun

Finally, most people let their anxiety drain them of fun experiences, and that itself makes coping with anxiety more difficult. Keeping your mind and body active is the best way to stop focusing on the anxiety of change. Play sports with your friends, go hiking, watch stand-up comedy – stay away from activities that fuel anxiety (such as watching horror movies) and stay mentally and physically active during your free time.

Reducing Your Anxiety

Anxiety reduction is not just about counselling and medicine. How you live your life every day can greatly affect your ability to cope with career change. Follow the above tips, try your best to stay active, and the stress of career change will melt away.

Leave a comment below: What strategies do you use to handle anxiety?

About the Author: Ryan Rivera has worked with many individuals going through career change, and provides tips and tools that help people relax.