This content has been produced by DeltaV Partners.
Change is inevitable throughout our lives, especially in these uncertain times. Changes can be large or small but the quicker we return to our desired state, both physically and mentally, the better. We explore the psychology of change and how we can become better equipped to cope.
How does change affect us?
The following model demonstrates the states we go through when dealing with a shock or change. The five stages are transferable and may vary from person to person.
It is essential to understand that we do not move along the stages in a linear direction or step-by-step. A person tends to move into stages in a random order and may sometimes even return back to a previous stage after a certain point in time. Each stage can last for a different time period, and it is possible for a person to get stuck in a particular stage and not move on from there.
Please note that this model will not make you deal with change. However, the increased understanding will enable you to be aware of what’s happening, why you might feel a certain way and be less judgemental of yourself.
Moving from shock to experiment, decision and/or integration is pivotal to successfully dealing with change. Read on to further understand how you can go through the change curve.
Let’s start coping
Here are some ideas to help you cope better:
Think things through and ask, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
We’re often scared of change because we’re afraid of the unknown. A good way to deal with the unknown is to think things through carefully. Imagine all of the possible outcomes, and then decide what would be your best and worst-case scenarios. Write them down, if it helps.
Another great strategy is to think about the last time you were faced with a big change and got through it okay. Remember how scary it was starting high school or learning to drive? Sometimes it’s not as bad as it seems at first, and may just take a little time to get used to.
Ask yourself how much you can control
When a big change occurs, it’s important to figure out how much control over the situation you really have. Understanding your role and how much you can change can help you put things into perspective. For example, if you’ve just moved out of home, there are many small things that you can do to make the process easier. Make a to-do list and check each item off when you complete it.
Accept and reframe
If the unwanted change is beyond your control, try taking a reflective approach. Accepting that there are things beyond your control, and choosing to be comfortable with that fact, is likely to bring greater peace of mind than waging an unwinnable war. View change as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than as a setback, even if you have to fake it until you make it!
Celebrate the positives
Even though it can be a tough ask, focusing on the positives can really help you manage change. While the positive aspects of a situation might not be obvious to begin with, it’s worth seeking them out – no matter how small they might be. For example, consider what you do have at the moment, it could be an outside space, the ability to train or time with your loved ones… whatever you have, be appreciative. Gratitude journaling is great for this!
If the unwanted change is within your control, take an active approach to deal with it. Try some problem solving techniques or set some goals to proactively address any challenges. Focusing on the problem at hand, developing a plan of action and asking for advice are useful active strategies.
Manage your stress
Improving your ability to handle stress will go a long way to helping you deal with change. Try practising mindfulness or meditation, or engaging in other relaxation techniques. More information can be found in our stress management article.
It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed if the change you’re facing is really big, or there’s too much change happening all at once. This is when it might be best to seek assistance. Consider asking friends or family members for help or emotional support. When we are physically distanced from our loved ones and colleagues, reach out via social media and speak things through over video calls.