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Coping with anxiety when things are changing all around you

For many people, especially in South Africa, new things begin in January. It could be moving to a new school, a new grade, from school to tertiary, moving out of home for the first time, a new job, a new project, or a different position at work. Or perhaps a job ended, and you’re now at home facing unemployment, or retirement.

There could be many reasons for you having to face something new, and change is often linked to feeling anxious.

Anxiety is a normal human emotion. It’s normal to feel jittery when things are changing all around us.  

Anxiety becomes a problem when feelings of fear and stress do not go away, and get in the way of your daily life.

If the thought of going back to work, back to school, or even staying at home is making you want to hide under the covers and never come out, then these tips can help you manage anxiety and make the transition smoother.


The psychological value of deep breathing cannot be overstated. Deep breaths send a signal to your brain to relax, reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds.

Break it down

When you’re starting out on something new, it can feel overwhelming. Try to break down your day into small steps, focussing on one step at a time. Breaking tasks into smaller parts makes them more manageable.

Buddy up

Try not to isolate yourself because you’re feeling nervous and don’t want others to know how you are feeling. You’ll probably find others have experienced the same feelings at some time or another. Connect with friends and family. Social support eases anxiety. When everything around you is feeling new or different, try to find people or places that feel more familiar.

Be kind to yourself and give yourself time

Adapting to change takes time. Don’t be disappointed if you find that your feelings of anxiety take quite a while to go away. Be kind to yourself and take one day at a time.


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