Ask a Wellness Coach: How do I deal with the anxiety of plans changing?


Wedding Cake Web

Erin Steven40
Erin Winger, left, is pictured with her fiancé, Steven. The couple will marry this month instead
of in November, due to complications associated with the pandemic. (Photo provided.)

When Erin Winger, marketing communications account manager at Notre Dame, planned her wedding, it was 2019 and she was looking forward to a November 2020 big day. The coronavirus changed most of the wedding plans, including setting a new date, in September. That came with stress and a different kind of anxiety. Using some of the practices that Wellness Coaches Martha Vanderheyden and Mary Shafer also recommend, Erin and her fiancé are ready to celebrate their next step in life together, despite the second round of planning it has required.

“Once I accepted the changes — and many of the decisions were made for us — I could get to the fun part of planning,” Winger said. “It’ll be different, more intimate with only 13 of our immediate family members, and maybe better.”

Whatever plans might be changing in your life during this time, remember there are campus resources and hotlines available that offer emotional and well-being support as we all learn to navigate the anxiety. University offices also offer many types of care to our community.

Here are some tools from the Wellness Coaches:

Let it Out: When faced with canceled plans and their uncertainty, allow yourself time to process and be present with your emotions. Remind yourself of how you want to handle this situation for yourself and your future, but also how you would want to be supported.

Practice Acceptance: Learn to accept that uncertainty and change are inevitable aspects of life during this time. Acceptance allows you the space to grieve and the ability to move forward. We can learn that this will pass and open ourselves up for another opportunity.

Take the Next Step: Let go of the emotions connected to the change and find the most effective way of staying afloat. Once we allow ourselves to focus on the present, we are able to let go of being fixated on the past. Through this we cultivate our ability to adapt.

Change Your Mindset: Letting go of grief, anxiety and sadness while cultivating gratitude allows our minds to create a new pathway that we can control. Gratitude practices are a great way to pave this new pathway. One way to cultivate gratitude is by simply reflecting on the present. Make a list of the things you feel grateful for, highlighting the good that is supporting you through these times.

Be Present: Bringing attention to the present can be easier said than done in these circumstances. However, the more we practice this muscle in our brains, the better we get at it. Make a list of the things you know to be true in the moment that bring you comfort. Remember, practice will create this new, positive pathway that can become second nature for your brain.

For a private consultation with a Wellness Coach, call 574-631-2366.

~Carrie Stone with Internal Communications contributed to this story.