We’ve been dealing with so much change over the past few years – are we getting better at it, or is change fatigue wearing us out?
If you feel like you’re struggling with all the change that you’re experiencing, know that you’re not alone. Dealing with a pandemic, witnessing loved ones getting sick, having work disrupted – all these things are immensely stressful, and it’s completely natural for these things to take a toll on you.
In this article, we will share seven strategies for embracing change, and managing it (instead of letting it manage you). Read on to find out more!
1. Create contingency plans
The most powerful thing you can do for yourself to manage change? Plan ahead.
Think of contingency plans as safety nets. Once you have these in place, you know that you have a safeguard to rely on when things get tough.
For example, think about how you’ll cope if your company starts retrenching people. You’ll experience much less stress if you know that you have sufficient money to tide you through while you look for a new job – so if you don’t already have that buffer in place, start saving up so that you do.
At the same time, it’ll be easier for you to find a new job if you’ve got marketable skills, so make sure you upskill and keep yourself relevant, instead of getting complacent.
2. Recognize that stress is natural (and can be positive)
Any overthinkers in the room? If you get to the point where you’re stressed about being stressed… well, that’s a recipe for disaster.
How do you get stress (and by proxy, change) to feel less scary? It’s simple – recognize that stress is a natural human response, and that it’s something that everyone experiences. Also, keep in mind that stress can be a positive thing!
Think about it: stress might feel unpleasant, but it motivates us to get moving, and to do something about the situation.
When you view it with that lens, suddenly stress doesn’t feel like such a negative emotion after all. Once you’re able to get here, change will feel less scary too.
3. Put things in perspective
Sometimes, minor changes can feel disproportionately unpleasant, and induce feelings of dread in us.
If you’re stressing over something inconsequential, then a good way of putting things into perspective is to ask yourself: what’s the worst that could happen?
For example, say you’re transferring to a new team for work, and you’re not sure how it’s going to go.
What’s the worst that could happen? Rationally speaking, you know that the vast majority of folks are going to be cordial at work – it’s rare that you meet someone horrible, who will make your life a living hell.
So, the worst-case scenario: you don’t hit it off with anyone right off the bat, and so you take a few months to form relationships and get to a point where you’re comfortable with your new team. Doesn’t sound that bad, huh?
4. Influence the things that you’re able to
In many cases, change feels stressful because we feel like we can’t control said change.
So, how do you make change feel less stressful? By controlling or influencing the things that are under your control.
For example, say you’re switching industries mid-way through your career, which is a huge change. You can’t control how things will turn out, or how successful you’ll be in your new field. But here’s what you can do:
- Take courses, and read up on the industry you’re entering
- Connect with people in the industry via LinkedIn (or just ask your social circle!) to talk to them and pick their brains
- Make sure you’re well-rested and have everything you need for your first day of work
By doing these things to prepare yourself, you’re reducing the amount of uncertainty associated with the change, and setting yourself up for success. This makes the change less stressful, as well as more manageable!
5. Spend time reflecting
In some cases, you’ll need to reflect and dig deep to figure out why a certain change is stressing you out or making you feel bad.
For example, say you’re now working from home due to the pandemic, and you realize that you’ve been feeling stressed and/or depressed. This could be due to any number of things, such as:
- Working longer hours
- Not being able to switch off after work
- Conflict with family members due to everyone being cooped at home
- Being more sedentary
- Not being able to see your colleagues and talk to them
- Not getting enough light or fresh air
You’ll need to spend some time reflecting and figuring out the root cause (or causes!) of your stress. Once you’ve done that, you can address the problem, or figure out a workaround.
6. Keep to a routine
Regardless of how much change you’re experiencing, it’s always good to keep to a routine, so you have some sort of structure in your life.
This can be something small, like making yourself coffee in the morning, taking a walk at lunchtime, or making sure you never skip your weekly calls with your friends and family. You’ll find comfort in the consistency, which will in turn make whatever change you’re undergoing seem more manageable.
7. Know what makes you feel better (and do it)
“Self-care” may seem like a buzzword that many people like to throw around, but it is beneficial for you to engage in activities that make you feel better.
Some of these may be no-brainers, such as exercising, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath. But other activities might be less obvious and/or more difficult to schedule in, such as attending dance classes, going to comedy nights, or hanging out with your friends.
Our advice? Be intentional about this, and actively schedule in things that make you happy or help energize you – even if it takes some planning or coordinating.
A final word on embracing change
The saying “change is the only constant” may be cliched, but it’s true. As the past few years have shown us, it’s more important than ever to learn how to manage change, so that you remain adaptable and versatile, and can handle whatever the world throws at you.
Here’s to managing change, instead of letting change manage you!