How to Deal with Change and Uncertainty

by | Blog

Uncertainty – the very word itself evokes a sense of unease, a feeling of walking a tightrope with no safety net in sight. It’s the unknown lurking around the corner, the unanswered question that keeps us up at night. But life, in its beautiful complexity, is an ongoing dance with uncertainty. Whether it’s a backpacking trip to a foreign land, a life-altering career change, or the butterflies before a first date, we all encounter situations where the outcome is hazy at best.

So, how do we navigate these periods of uncertainty without succumbing to crippling anxiety? How do we transform anxiety from a debilitating force into a catalyst for growth? In this blog, we delve into the subtle yet crucial difference between the anxiety of experiencing something new and the stress of the accompanying uncertainty. We’ll explore how our bodies perceive these feelings and how the practice of Sophrology can equip you with the tools to navigate the unknown with confidence.

The Thrill of the New vs. The Burden of the Unknown

Anxiety and stress, often used interchangeably, manifest distinctly in the body and mind. Anxiety, rooted in an evolutionary response to perceived danger, is a natural reaction to embarking on new territory. It can manifest as a racing heart, sweaty palms or a flurry of “what if” thoughts. This “positive anxiety,” also known as eustress, can actually heighten focus and motivation, propelling us towards new experiences. However, when anxiety escalates and becomes chronic, it can become debilitating, hindering our ability to function effectively.

Stress, on the other hand, arises from feeling overwhelmed, burdened or out of control. In the context of new experiences, the uncertainty of the outcome is the primary stressor.  We crave predictability, and the uncharted nature of a new adventure can trigger the feeling of being “out of control.” This can lead to similar physiological responses as anxiety, such as increased heart rate and muscle tension, but with a distinct underlying cause.

We have thoughts and rational thinking, analytical ‘me’ and then there is pure perception and emotions, which are not just felt in the brain — you feel it all over. If you’re falling in love or afraid, you would experience a change in heartbeat and you would feel it in your gut, the so-called “gut feeling.” We are more than just the brain. An emotion is something that is being sensed throughout your body. You might start to sweat and your heartbeat quickens and afterwards, you become aware of the emotion. There’s this interaction between the rational thoughts, the pure perceptions and the emotions. So through Sophrology, where you orient your attention, or you do a specific exercise, such as breathing, you can impact how one body system affects the other.” 

– Dr Steven Laureys, MD, PhD, Neuroscientist, Head of BeSophro Scientific Advisory Board.

Understanding the Body’s Two Systems

Understanding the physiological basis of these feelings requires delving into the workings of our nervous system. Two key players are the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS).

The SNS is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response, preparing the body for action when faced with a perceived threat. During anxious or stressful situations, the SNS releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, raising heart rate and blood pressure. It’s like a built-in alarm system, alerting us to potential dangers.

Conversely, the PNS acts as our body’s “rest and digest” system. It promotes relaxation, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and allows us to focus on the present moment. When we feel safe and secure, the PNS dominates, allowing us to function effectively.

The ideal scenario is a healthy balance between these two systems. When faced with new experiences, the initial anxiety triggers the SNS, preparing us for the unknown. However, if the uncertainty persists, the PNS should step in to promote a sense of calmness and control. However, chronic stress or excessive anxiety can lead to an overactive SNS, leaving us feeling perpetually on edge and depleting our energy reserves. You can find out how to balance your nervous system in our blog.

Embracing the Unknown: Tools for the Journey

Here are some key strategies to manage anxiety and embrace uncertainty as you embark on a new adventure:

  • Reframing Uncertainty: Instead of viewing the unknown as a threat, reframe it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. This shift in mindset can significantly reduce anxiety and foster a sense of excitement.
  • Embrace the Power of Planning: Planning, even when the outcome is uncertain, can create a sense of control and direction. Conduct research, set realistic goals and create a flexible roadmap for the journey ahead.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Being present in the moment allows you to focus on what you can control – your thoughts, feelings and actions – rather than dwelling on the distant future. Meditative practices like Sophrology and deep breathing can be powerful tools in managing anxiety.
  • Focus on the “What If” of Success: Instead of dwelling on the “what ifs” of failure, shift your focus to the possibilities of success. Visualise yourself navigating challenges and achieving your goals. This positive mental rehearsal can boost confidence and reduce anxiety.
  • Build a Support System: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people who believe in you. Sharing your anxieties and concerns can lighten the load and create a safe space for processing your emotions.
  • Embrace Sophrology: Sophrology can be a powerful tool for managing stress and anxiety. Through visualisations, relaxation techniques and gentle body movements, Sophrology can help you identify and manage stressful emotions, develop positive coping mechanisms and cultivate a sense of calm and control.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Remember, everyone experiences anxiety in the face of uncertainty. Be kind to yourself, acknowledge your fear and trust your ability to navigate through it.

Sophrology: Your Toolbox for Navigating Uncertainty

Sophrology combines elements of relaxation techniques, mindfulness practices and gentle body movements. Through guided visualisations, controlled breathing exercises and body awareness exercises, Sophrology can help you:

  • Deal with anxiety: By focusing on relaxation techniques and calming the nervous system, Sophrology can help you reduce physiological arousal associated with anxiety.
  • Increase self-awareness: Through body scans and guided visualisations, Sophrology improves your understanding of your internal state, allowing you to identify and manage anxious thoughts and emotions.
  • Improve emotional regulation: By fostering a sense of calm and control, Sophrology equips you with tools to navigate stressful situations more effectively.
  • Develop positive coping mechanisms: Sophrology cultivates mental tools like visualisation and positive affirmations which can help you reframe negative thoughts and develop resilience in the face of uncertainty.
  • Enhance focus and concentration: By promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety, Sophrology can improve your ability to focus on the present moment and function effectively even in unfamiliar situations.

Regular practice of Sophrology, even just 10 minutes a day, can help you transform the anxiety of a new experience into a sense of positive excitement. You’ll be better equipped to navigate unfamiliar situations, adapt to cultural differences and embrace the growth opportunities that come with experiencing something new.

As you navigate the inevitable anxieties and stresses that accompany new chapters in life, remember that the human brain is wired for adaptation. The more you practice Sophrology, emotional regulation and self-compassion, the better equipped you’ll be to navigate the unknown and embrace all that life has to offer. Take the leap, for within the unknown lies the potential for incredible experiences and self-discovery.

If you’d like to learn how to turn negativity into resilience and fear into confidence with easy-to-follow Sophrology practices, try our 12-day online series: Master Your Mindset. Each 15-minute daily Sophrology exercise can help you unlock your most positive self, reach your goals and truly master your mindset.

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