Change is an inevitable part of the human experience, and it happens across all areas of our lives. At work and within relationships, in our communities and throughout society, new events give rise to change.
Over the past year, a global pandemic has forced society and its members to undergo numerous rapid and unexpected changes, one of them being in workplace settings and processes. At the onset of the pandemic, many employees navigated working from home, which brought about challenges with few guiding precedents. Discovering and setting up make-shift workspaces, troubleshooting new software, and balancing routines, were just a few of the situations employees faced.
Yet with the adjustment of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of our economy, more and more companies have opened their offices, and some have even requested that employees return to their workspaces. For some, this may have been a welcome reprieve from remote work settings, while others approached that return to work with hesitancy.
Indeed, many continue to struggle with a transition that has given rise to various fears and anxieties. Safety concerns, understanding new workplace practices, the inclusion of personal protective equipment, possible organizational restructuring, and even a preference for remote or flexible work environments, are all changes employees must confront.
In order to effectively manage our evolving workplace circumstances, it is important to learn and practice coping methods. Such practices can foster resilience in the face of change, and can lower the risk of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, as protocols and expectations within workplaces continue to shift with new information and processes, such strategies will lead to longer and more sustainable stress management.
Changes of this magnitude can be difficult to navigate, but the experience can be improved with a few strategies:
Evaluate Your Level of Control
Doing so can be empowering, as you recognize what you can take responsibility for, and in turn, make you feel less trapped within your current situation.
Check-in with yourself about what you want versus what you need in the workplace. Are these reasonable requests in the current climate and environment? For example, if you are working out childcare logistics, you may need flexibility. However, a preference for a later start time, would be considered a want.
Making sure you are aware of the stress that such changes can bring about can help you ensure supports are in place to cope. All changes can bring up emotions, so pull on resources when needed.
Recognize Thought Patterns
Black and white thinking, assuming the worst, and catastrophizing are all thought patterns unknown and anxiety-inducing situations can bring about. Recognizing when we’re thinking this way may also allow you to address if these thoughts are rational or are disregarding previous experiences where you’ve managed change.
Be Present Focused
Much of our anxieties come from worries about the future, which pulls us from our current experience. Staying in the present can not only reduce our concerns but also allow us to recognize and celebrate the successes.
We hope these coping mechanisms help bolster you with the ability to navigate the ever-changing environment we find ourselves in. If you need further support, please do not hesitate to connect with us.
Check out other mental health related resources on our partner practice’s website, Synthesis Psychology.
Demerouti, E. (2015). Strategies used by individuals to prevent burnout. European Journal of Clinical Investigation, 45(10), 1106-1112.
Jackson, D., Firtko, A., & Edenborough, M. (2007). Personal resilience as a strategy for surviving and thriving in the face of workplace adversity: a literature review. Journal of advanced nursing, 60(1), 1-9.
King, D. D., Newman, A., & Luthans, F. (2016). Not if, but when we need resilience in the workplace. Journal of organizational behavior, 37(5), 782-786.
Rafferty, A. E., & Griffin, M. A. (2006). Perceptions of organizational change: A stress and coping perspective. Journal of applied psychology, 91(5), 1154 -1162.