As this is the first of the SHEW (Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing) “lets talk about…” blogs, I wanted a topic that might be relevant to everyone and thought what better place to start than with the topic of navigating change. With what we have all experienced in the last 12 months or so, and as we usher in the start of unlocking, good, bad or ugly the instability and uncertainty is likely to continue.
For some of us this may bring the return to the office, bringing up feelings of anxiety, navigating the new norms of social interaction with colleagues, and adapting to a new (or forgotten) routine.
For others, working from home (WFH) is staying for a while yet, and for many this flexibility is long-awaited. However, WFH is not without its downsides, for those struggling with their mental health the lack of face to face connection can make it harder than ever to reach out for support, or for managers to recognise the warning signs.
So how do we continue to care for and support ourselves and each other, and ensure we are set up to weather this continuing adaptation?
We know that change can have a big impact on our wellbeing both positively and negatively, physically and emotionally, so I thought I would share one practical way to proactively look after your wellbeing as we continue to navigate and adjust to a changing world.
Our approach to the world can be viewed through two simple lenses in terms of mindset – growth and fixed (see Carol Dweck). People with a growth mindset thrive under challenge, perceiving problems and change as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop. Those with a fixed mindset believe that any success we achieve is more likely to be considered an affirmation of the skills we are born with, rather than a recognition of the time, effort or practice applied to develop these skills.
When we are navigating change and uncertainty, our mindset becomes a critical factor in how we respond. Change can be challenging, either we are forced to confront a new reality that we do not want, or that is so different from what we have been accustomed to, it can be very difficult to adapt.
If our natural response to challenge is that we embrace it and see it as an opportunity to learn and adapt, we are likely to remain more resilient than if we resist it or see it as an unwanted presence in our lives.
Learning how to recognise a fixed mindset view and reframing it to a more growth mindset view can support your wellbeing. For example, in a fixed mindset frame of mind we might say: “I have no control over what is happening, so there’s no point trying to do anything”.
This statement could have an unhelpful impact on your resilience and wellbeing, whereas you may well feel more empowered and resilient if you took a different approach, such as:
“I’m going to figure out what I can control or influence, and do something about those things”
It has proved to be helpful to externalise and make a list of the main things causing you pain or discomfort, questioning whether you have any control or influence and if you do, however small, plan to address them. It is unlikely that you will be able to control or influence everything. For these things, it’s important to make a conscious decision – and effort – to acknowledge this and then learn to let go.
These adjustments may seem small, but they can have a very powerful impact on our wellbeing.
- If you would like some support with navigating change then please remember our volunteer Wellbeing Champions are available to talk about and share relevant resources and services with you, also the University counselling provision and Employee Assistance Programme is available to all staff and offers support, or you could engage in a coaching conversation through the network of Coaches to explore practical steps for making progress.