Developing a Healthy Response to Change

5/15/2004

At times it seems as though change in the workplace is happening constantly. New policies, more job responsibilities, higher expectations, financial worries and layoffs—types of change that can cause one to feel like life is spinning out of control. 

Change, assessed as positive or negative, evokes feelings of stress. Stressful elements of change include missing the familiar, fearing inadequacy, not understanding the big picture and “me” issues, such as how this will affect promotion opportunities, changes in pay or benefits, and possible job loss. It is important to address your reaction to change. Some ways to accomplish this include using stress management tools, recognizing who your support people are and discovering what would help you to better understand and accept the change. Seek out the benefits that change creates, such as career enhancement and professional growth and development, to use as your goals in the change process. 

Try to prepare yourself for change by being creative and adaptable whenever possible. Practice setting what the worst case scenario could be by asking yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen as a result of this change?” When you decide what that is, determine if there is anything you can do now to prepare. For example, can you place extra money in savings, decrease the amount of money you put on credit cards, or decrease or delete certain budget items? Don’t forget the best case scenario: “What is the best that will happen when this change occurs?” 

Make the most of the stress management techniques that you find useful and perhaps add some new tools such as keeping things in perspective. Remember it is not worth your time and energy to worry about things that may not happen. Think of a previous time when you went through changes, paying attention to what you learned through that experience. Is it possible to apply it to this situation? Positive thinking may prove to be helpful. Find and memorize a positive saying that you can use throughout your day. Exercise can also have a calming effect and a physically fit body can take on effects of stress better than one that is not. Lastly, practice your self-care through relaxation techniques, eating well and seeking the support of others.