Life is ever-changing. Accepting and adapting to change can be difficult for some people. Change as John F Kennedy quoted is a Law of Life. Change for many can be a positive thing but for many others, it can cause stress and anxiety.
Change can be described as the event which occurs, (often at an organisational level), therefore external to the individual. Whereas transition describes the internal psychological adaptation to change. As human beings, we tend to act on and blindly believe our feelings. Emotions alert us about the threat, but they can also be like an ocean, that we cannot dive in forever to survive.
After a very challenging two years, we have all had to adapt to drastic changes in our everyday lives. It is natural to feel overwhelmed to change and may cause feelings of fear and anxiety.
Here are a few tips to make accepting and adapting to change a little bit easier:
First, reconnect with your body.
Accepting and adapting to change involves the experience of uncertainty and psychological threat to our self-integrity or even a direct threat to our safety. It leads to physiological and self-protective defenses. It is important to spot these reactions in your body.
You can recognize the fight or flight reaction by dry mouth, increased breathing pace, rapid heart rate, feeling hot, twisting feeling in your stomach, and getting pale or flushed skin. Your body is getting ready to fight the danger or run away from it, so it needs to deliver oxygen to the skeletal muscles and use stored sugars to produce energy.
Here is what you can do when you notice these reactions:
- Start by discharging the energy out of your body by taking an energetic walk, or exercise. You may even jump or dance for a couple of minutes.
- Regulate your breath with diaphragmatic breathing. Practice progressive muscles relaxation, where you tense gradually different segments of muscles, then release it and repeat it.
- Vocalize it out: inhale deeply and make the voo sound, letting it resonate through your abdomen and chest as you exhale.
- Ground yourself with a sense of touch: cross your arms on your chest and tap your shoulders with your fingers… tap on the left shoulder, tap on the right shoulder, and left again, and right again… go up to 25, at your own pace.
- Use other senses to ground yourself through mindfulness: name 5 blue objects you can see, 4 sounds, close or distant, feel the texture of 3 different objects around you, finally, can you feel at least 2 smells or 1 taste?
All these simple steps will help you reconnect with your body if you feel overwhelmed when experiencing change.
Feeling settled in your body? Let’s have a look at your mind.
I often talk with people caught up in their experiences of accepting and adapting to change. Even ‘good’ changes in life create a challenge to some extent. Why? Each of us, early in life, develops ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ beliefs about ourselves. The ‘good’ ones are the wind in the sails helping us get through life’s challenges and encouraging us to reach out for opportunities. I can cope. I am capable. Others will help me. I can do what I aim to.
Like in every story, where is good, there might be something bad hidden. The negative beliefs are like a storm: I am not capable. People don’t care about me. So, we put on waterproof jackets to be protected from it: If you work hard for it, then you are capable. If you invest in a relationship your whole heart, then others will care about you too. We create these rules for life, and they help us most of the time, but they are also rigid. Change is when the storm is suddenly becoming the 40-degree heat.
You need to be more flexible with your rules. In other words, you need time to change the waterproof jacket to sunscreen and sunglasses and that is the exact moment when you suffer because of the change. Observe your thoughts and be mindful and aware of self-criticism. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself some self-care while navigating your way through change.
Focus on living a healthy and balanced life
Living a healthy and active life can help build our resilience and our ability to manage change. Stress is inevitable in life and is a normal response to dealing with changes in our daily lives. The anxiety and stressors that often surround change can have a direct impact on our bodies and emotional state. Discovering the critical skills and tools to deal with stress and change is key to our survival on both an emotional and physical level.
Looking after our wellbeing, both inside and outside the workplace is detrimental to how we accept and adapt to change. It is essential to get adequate sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. When a body is well-rested and fueled with a balanced diet, it can better handle the roller coaster of ups and downs that come with change and subsequent transitions.
Here at Zevo Health, our team of Wellbeing Specialists have created a number of trainings to equip attendees with the tools to support them with accepting and adapting to change and become more resilient.