So much change in so little time. Surely this is the tagline for 2020? By now we’ve all been weather beaten into submission with all the constantly moving parts. No longer fighting against the tide of change (at least I hope you’re still not doing that) we’re now in some form of acceptance that things will continue to change and be a little crazy for at least the rest of the year and likely next.
And herein lies the challenge: more change ahead. So how do we even navigate the next 6 months (which will feel like 8 months)? We need to learn to manage change. Whether change is something you are choosing for yourself or something that has been unceremoniously thrust upon you, you need to pro-actively manage it.
Change is hard and it doesn’t come natural to any of us. Our brains are wired to resist it. Without proactive management frequent change on a large scale can create much stress, anxiety and feelings of being out of control.
So let me share with you 5 ways that you can better manage change over the coming months:
- Accept it’s a challenging time
We are currently experiencing change and disruption to our routines and way of life on a huge scale. It’s a difficult time for everyone. When it’s a difficult time, things feel harder. It’s tiring. You may feel stressed. You may oscilate between feeling engaged and then wanting to retreat from the world. That is to be expected because it’s a challenging time. Change requires adjustment and takes time. Accept it is difficult and believe that you are navigating it as best you can.
This is one of the best techniques to apply, with immediate results. When COVID-19 hit I did exactly this and it helped a lot! Look at everything that you have on your to-do list including your goals and general responsibilities (personal admin, housework etc.). Decide which things you can delay (push your deadline back), delegate or delete altogether. Trying do it all while navigating the change process will only exacerbate the stress and overwhelm. Simplify by reducing your responsibilities in your work and personal life.
- Allow more time for the adjustment to occur
Most of us would prefer that we have a certain established amount of time and at the end of that time, the change process is complete, such as having an end date for this pandemic. We all want it to be nice, neat and predictable. Mostly we just want it to take as little as time as possible. But there is no way to speed this process up unfortunately. When you focus on the end result you want and resist your present circumstances it causes you stress. You are resisting what is and wanting it to be different(you are“arguing with reality” as Byron Katie says). Ask yourself: Can you accept that it will take a long time? How can you shift your focus to the present moment?
- Expect it to be messy
Change is not a straight line from one way of being to another. If you graphed it it’d probably be a zigzag. You may cope and adjust to a new situation well for a while, but then you seem to“regress” back to the old way of thinking and being. This is a normal part of the process. But often this is when we all feel like we’ve failed or that something is wrong with us. I assure you that it is normal to be feeling up and down as you adjust to change.
- Have your own back.
Moving through change will require more time and energy from you. It can be unsettling, frustrating and tiring. It’s important to therefore have your own back. Work with yourself and not against yourself. You can do this in a number of ways: 1. By becoming aware of any negative thoughts about your situation. Remind yourself that this is a process and will take time. 2. Support yourself as you would support a good friend in their time of need. Cut yourself some slack, reassure yourself that you are doing your best. 3. Engage in self care activities. Give yourself the things you need to rejuvenate your energy (exercise, sleep, yoga, good food, water, a day trip etc).