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Change comes in all shapes and sizes, and it affects us all in different ways. Some people thrive on change; in fact, some people seek it because they like to be challenged, learn new things constantly because they get bored easily. However, a lot of us find change uncomfortable or even scary.
With the news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing last week, we are in a period of change in the UK. We are simultaneously dealing with the end of an era and the start of another. We are dealing with the loss of someone who has been a constant symbol of wisdom and historic understanding in our lives. We’re saying goodbye to someone who steadfastly devoted their life to their work and their people.
It's natural that some people might feel a loss of individual identity at this time as well. However, the immediate accession of King Charles III does create a comfortable continuity. The times ahead are not uncertain like they were during Covid-19 and while it will take time, times of change will become times of normality.
The feelings stirred up during the last few days are not dissimilar, regardless of their intensity, to the experiences we go through when we change career, face redundancy or make the decision to actively seek a new role.
So, here are a few ways you can deal with change in life and work and ensure you and those around you, do not feel anxious or stressed.
1. Learn to accept what you can and cannot control
While it might be difficult to accept what has happened, you can help yourself by focusing on what you can control. We cannot control who we lose. We cannot control our role becoming redundant. We cannot control the rising cost of energy.
However, making a list of what we can control around each specific out-of-control situation can help us move towards a more positive outcome as well as helping us feel much better. In time, it might also help you come to terms with the situation too.
2. Pace yourself
Dealing with change is not a sprint. It is made up of numerous stages you need to complete before you can progress to the next level – a bit like a video game and you might need to repeat some levels before you conquer them. But that’s okay.
When it comes to our careers, some of those levels might manifest as a requirement to learn new processes and procedures, getting to know team members or even writing the CV that is going to get us noticed. Whatever it is, incremental steps are the best way forward as is the need to celebrate when you achieve each one.
3. Be honest
When people ask you how you are, be honest. If you are concerned about anything, tell them. If you are proud of something you have achieved, let them know. Being honest helps you maintain positive relationships with loved ones or colleagues. It strengthens bonds and helps everyone adapt to change and learn together.
4. Get outside / exercise
The power of nature is often understated. Going for a lunchtime or evening walk can help us make sense of our thoughts and feelings, plan our next steps or just to feel calmer. Dealing with change starts and ends with the mind so ensuring you take care of your mental wellbeing is vital.
Exercise is another way to ensure our minds and bodies are in the best shape to cope with the physical stresses change can bring. From yoga, spinning or simply going to the gym to be around other people who share an interest, looking after your body should never drop to the bottom of your list.
5. Create consistency and plan things to look forward to
Regardless of whether the changes you are experiencing are in life or work, sticking to a regular schedule gives us something to anchor to. These anchors are a reminder that there are some things that remain the same and can give your brain a bit of respite.
Similarly, planning things to look forward to gives us something positive to focus on and deflect from the negative or anxious feelings we may have around certain changes we are experiencing.
6. Step away from social media
Whether you use social media to post your thoughts or consume content, taking a break from your social channels during times of change could be a great move. During turbulent times of change, we might not always be thinking clearly or in a calm space and therefore this might affect what you post. Bearing in mind that what you post never disappears, staying silent might be the best course of action.
Stepping away from social media is also beneficial because we have a tendency to compare ourselves to our friends or others in general. However, it is important to remember that people only post the best version of themselves, or the version they want you to see. We all have our own battles and what you see on social media might not always be the reality.
7. Ask for help
No one goes through their lives or their careers alone. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to join support groups. It’s okay to find likeminded people who feel the same as you and who are working on making their lives better. Sharing our thoughts and feelings and asking for the opinions of others can often fire us in a positive trajectory.
I’ve heard from many people over the last few days that the death of Queen Elizabeth has triggered a lot of feelings that people are struggling to make sense of. While loss is likely to be the primary feeling triggered at this time, coping with change is often the next.
If you are struggling, please follow some if not all the steps above. I promise you that before long, you will feel more positive and will feel on firm ground once more.