This week I’ve been reflecting on how we deal with stress and change. Wherever you are in the world and whatever your field of expertise, you’re likely to have to continue to deal with huge change in your life and in your business which will inevitably cause you stress. There are so many things we can’t control, so much that impacts us both mentally and physically. How do you manage to stay focused on what’s important to you? How do you stay healthy and happy with so much change in the world? Whether you’re just launching a new business, thinking about starting or in a growth phase, change is a constant reality that affects us all. Let’s focus navigating our way through to building a business and a life that works for you.
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol
Are you stressed?
Change can be exhilarating and challenging, wonderful and terrible all at the same time. It’s easy to forget that it also exhausting. Stress usually accompanies any kind of change, whether positive or negative.
Over these past couple of years we’ve all had a lesson in resilience and dealing with the unexpected. Some have suffered immeasurably and others have discovered unexpected opportunities. But we’ve all had to deal with feeling out of control. The frustration, confusion and anger we feel when others don’t behave as we expect or make different choices.
I moved apartments this week. It was a stark reminder for me of how unpredictable life can be. The new apartment wasn’t ready when it should have been which meant ever single detail of my carefully planned move got thrown up in the air. I was so annoyed and frustrated I couldn’t think straight. I felt completely paralysed and overwhelmed with the enormity of it all and so alone. Eventually my project management instincts took over and I made it work, but looking back at this week I’m once again struck by how important it is to recognise how we’re feeling as we navigate through change.
Our emotions impact our thoughts and therefore our actions. You may think you’re acting logically and rationally but as human beings we are governed much more by our emotions than many of us like to admit. When we experience change – whether it’s a house move or a global pandemic, the stupidity and arrogance of people who make the rules or a simple decision by a loved one – we all experience a multitude of emotions. These have been mapped out along the so called Change Curve, and whether or not you’re conscious of them, they are playing out in your system and influencing your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.
We start off with some sort of reaction to the change whether positive or negative. Our reaction can range from the raise of an eyebrow to full blown shock. Depending on what’s changing we’ll then experience some sort of resistance. You might not even notice this with small changes, but our brains are designed to keep us safe and so they will always try to resist the change in some way. This can be anything from mild inertia or questioning through to full blown denial. For many this will then lead into anger and looking for someone to blame. Some will look outwards while others will chose to shoulder the blame themselves. The next stage is confusion or in some cases lowness or even depression. It’s only after we’ve been through these stages, whether consciously or not, dramatically or calmly, that we can reach a state of acceptance which can then move into problem solving.
When you think about how people have dealt with all the change we’ve experienced in the last couple of years you can see people at all stages of this change curve. We can move backwards and forwards along it. Different people will move at different speeds and you may experience different aspects of it all in the same day. I certainly did on Monday morning when I arrived at our new apartment only to be told it wouldn’t be ready to move into until Wednesday afternoon!
The only thing that’s constant in any of our lives is change. Understanding and accepting where you are on the Change Curve can definitely help. Here are my Top 10 Tips for Managing Change:-
🌟 Plan ahead. Thinking through possible scenarios and outcomes starts to prepare us for them emotionally. Even if your plan go awry, as mine did this week, having one to fall back on and adapt can really help.
🌟 Honesty. Become conscious and be honest with yourself about how you’re really feeling. Solutions can only come once you’ve accepted reality, but allow yourself to wallow a little if that’s what you need.
🌟 Positive. If you’re feeling negative about the change that’s happening, try to reframe it to something more positive. What are the upsides and opportunities of this change? How could you experience it differently?
🌟 Time. Giving ourselves time and space to process can be a real challenge when it feels like things are coming at us or happening to us. Rather than numbing your feelings with distractions, make time to honour your feelings.
🌟 Voice. Give your thoughts and feelings an outlet. It could be writing in a journal or talking with a trusted friend. Maybe creating something that will help you remember or engaging a coach to help you process.
🌟 Routines. Structure make us feel grounded. It’s comforting. Try to stick to your usual routines and habits as much as possible to keep you connected with what feels normal to you. Stick to your regular timings, food and activities.
🌟 Self care. Never more important than during times of change and therefore stress. Treat yourself to a relaxing bath, a walk in the countryside or a good book. Spend some time on things that recharge and refresh you.
🌟 Move. Moving your body is essential in relieving stress and clearing your head. It will help you get some much needed perspective and enable you to process the change you’re experiencing.
🌟 Help. It’s common to feel alone in times of change so don’t be afraid to ask for help from loved ones or trusted advisors. Acknowledging how we’re feeling allows us to move along the Change Curve towards solutions.
🌟 Gratitude. Counting our blessings, sharing achievements and acknowledging the good in our lives can all help us through the tough moments. Gratitude for even the smallest things can help reset our minds.
It’s completely unrealistic to expect yourself to know everything or be able to do everything. Please be kind to yourself and if you’d like to talk through the choices you’re facing or any blockers in your business, let me know.
Lisa Zevi – January 2022