How do I cope with short-term anxiety over long-term change?
August 9, 2011 11:01 PM Subscribe
I need advice on coping with the (situational) anxiety that accompanies big life changes? I've already done some work and made a major career shift that I think will make me happier, but it's a much more precarious course of action, and the risk-averse part of me is complaining, loudly.
posted by p.soul to Work & Money (5 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Until recently I was a bit afraid of my own shadow, at least where my career was concerned. When I was young I made the "safe" choice of going to law school straight out of undergrad, and never sort of wallowed in that period you're supposed to have in your early 20s where you bounce around from shitty job to shitty job. The result was that, like a lot of lawyers, I hated my life, but felt I could do nothing to change it without unacceptably increasing my risk profile.
Fast-forward to my early thirties, when I was laid off from a lawyer job and decided not to continue on that path, and, after a detour into academia, took up a creative path I'd long let languish, writing. And I have had not a small amount of professional reinforcement there, and now am enrolled in the fall in a program that I think will take me to the next level. I have to go into a little debt for this, but it's mitigated by a pile of savings I'd like to spend on this dream, and I've made my peace with that - I was debt-free before, this is less than a mortgage, etc.
Or, at least, I thought I had made my peace with it. For the last couple of weeks, as I've been dealing with all the logistics of a move (across a national border for me) to an expensive East Coast city, I've been having these crazed anxious moments, complete with tears. I know, I know: get a prescription for Xanax, everyone tells me. But for lots of reasons I'd rather not do that, and in any event I can't spend my life on benzos, and it's basically my life's direction that's causing the problem here, so it's sort of an unavoidable problem.
Long term, I know I will be happier in a shitty rental for the rest of my life, writing, than I ever was as a very well-heeled corporate lawyer. I have had the year in academia to test this theory and it held water. I did not miss any of the material comforts I had had before.
That said, my mind often races lately with all the things that could go wrong. The successes that have led me to believe I could write may suddenly stop falling from the sky; what if I get sick and don't have health coverage; the U.S. is falling apart oh god what am I doing here etc. You know the spiral. I do not think it approaches the clinical level anyway, just is sort of decreasing my QoL in a marked way.
What do people do, outside the realm of pharmaceuticals, to cope with this kind of thing? Work out a lot? Repeat mantras? Eat a lot of greens? I'm thinking I need tips of this kind. I've been able to relax intermittently though out this period, but haven't found much that's a failsafe.