Managing Change during uncertainty

Three pointers to managing change in uncertain times

Welcome to our guest mini blog with experts from the world of personal development, health and wellness…

This week we’re delighted to welcome Gemma Bullivant to share her “3 Pointers”… small, easy to adopt steps we can all make to help us feel better day-to-day, leading to a healthier, happier and more thriving life.

Gemma is an HR Consultant and Coach with over 25 years’ experience in HR and Coaching. She is also a qualified Positive Psychologist, with specific training in Grief, Loss and Change. Gemma offers a range of HR, Coaching and Grief related services, including Bereavement & Change Coaching, Returning to Work during Bereavement Coaching and Redundancy Coaching.

MANAGING YOUR HEALTH & WELLBEING DURING UNCERTAINTY

Change can have a profound effect on our physical and emotional wellbeing.

In my work, I coach people who are addressing a huge range of significant change events. Death of a loved one is of course the most obvious, but I also regularly coach clients who have experienced divorce (or the end of a significant relationship), redundancy, and loss of business.

All significant changes evoke grief responses. Our body can go into fight or flight mode – we can rebel against the pain or discomfort, and try to find ways to escape it, and shield ourselves from it. In fact, what we need to do is find ways to safely address and process what we are experiencing.

Here are three pointers to proactively look after your wellbeing as we continue to transition through the impact of change in relation to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

1. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR RESPONSE

Our response to a situation can depend on a number of things including our beliefs, our experience, our mood, and our thoughts. They all inter-relate and can affect each other. Our thoughts can be shaped and reinforced by our beliefs and vice versa.

Consider the following example. Two people have to deliver a virtual presentation to the company over Zoom.

  • Person A believes they are hopeless at technology. They always have technology issues, and hate doing this kind of thing in person, so doing it virtually will be ten times harder. They think – “It will be a disaster!”
  • Person B believes they can probably do a passable job, but they’ve never done it before so they know it won’t be slick or polished. They think – “It won’t be perfect but what do they expect?! I’ll do my best – that’s all I can do.”

Which person is likely to feel more anxious and stressed about the prospect? The person with more presentation experience, or the person with none?

In fact, we have no idea who will do a better job – this is about how we FEEL about a situation rather than skills we need. But we do know from research that a growth mindset (open and positive approach to seeing what you can do with effort and practice) is likely to produce a more favourable outcome than a fixed mindset (we are constrained by set limitations, therefore there’s no point).

Our beliefs can also influence our physical response (anger, stress, calm, etc), and this can be seen in unwanted or unexpected physical responses to stress, such as panic attacks and anxiety.

2. PRACTISE ENERGY MANAGEMENT

The way we manage our energy is a system, and needs ongoing management and practice.

Think about your energy on a quadrant – effort (high and low) and emotion (positive and negative)

  • High energy positivity – that feeling of ‘flow’ when we might be busy, but in short bursts we feel energised and productive, and we are enjoying what we are doing
  • Low energy positivity – when we can recharge by doing things that we find nurturing and nourishing to our wellbeing
  • High energy negativity – where negative and highly demanding emotions like stress or anxiety become overwhelming and draining
  • Low energy negativity – where we feel helpless and lacking in motivation or energy to lift ourselves – effectively ‘burnt out’

The ideal is to intentionally move ourselves between the 2 positivity areas – flourish and recharge – and to notice if we are pulled into more unhelpful negative emotions that make demands on our energy without benefit to us.

Two questions to help:

  1. What activities help you to feel calm, proud, reflective, satisfied and the other emotions that nurture you?
  2. What behaviours have you noticed in yourself recently that are draining and negative, and how can you reframe these more positively before they exhaust you?

3. GET CLEAR ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL

One of the most challenging aspects of change is that we are forced to confront a new reality either that we do not want, or that is so different from what we have been accustomed to it can be very difficult to adapt to the change. For most of us, this is COVID-19 in a nutshell.

How much control do you feel you have on your situation? Do you have any self-limiting beliefs that might be holding you back? 

When you have had the rug pulled from under you, regaining a sense of control is vitally important to support the right mindset for what you have to do.

When I am coaching, I sometimes use a tool I call the ‘Fried Egg’. Imagine a fried egg in a frying pan. The yolk of the egg is all the things you can control, the white of the egg are the things you can’t control but you do have the ability to influence, and in the frying pan are all the things you can neither control nor influence.  

Think about your situation – make a list of the main things causing you pain or discomfort at the moment. Where on the fried egg in a pan do these things sit? Can you reframe any of these to be a proactive statement of intent instead? (e.g. “the news terrifies me” reframe to “I will limit how much news I watch”).

The aim isn’t necessarily to move everything into the control zone, but rather to raise your awareness of what you can and cannot control, and to make a conscious decision – and effort – to let go of the things in the frying pan – the things you cannot control.

Growing healthy habits

If you are interested in POINT3’s upcoming Growing Healthy Habits 30-day programme (starts 7 September) – designed to help people feel good, stay resilient and manage change in the most positive way… check out the details and register here.