Change is a constant. But sometimes, especially when it comes to work, change can be stressful, complicated, uncomfortable, even a little bit scary.
These days, most of us aren’t unfamiliar with an abrupt change in workplace or work style.
The pandemic challenged us all to do our jobs well despite a hefty dose of uncertainty and unfamiliarity. And while lots of us are now settling into a not-so-new normal, many are still figuring out how to build new routines in unfamiliar work environments.
It’s important to remember that as we go through workplace change, we can (and should) take an active role in supporting our mental health. That doesn’t just apply to returning to the office or settling into a new hybrid routine, but also when we’re in the midst of changing jobs or even simply changing positions within a job. In any case, taking the time for self-care amidst a transition period is incredibly important.
Why is it important to give your mental wellness extra attention in times of transition?
Heading towards new responsibilities, new co-workers, or a new work environment can be stressful. On the other side of change, you want to arrive with your best foot forward. Conscious self-care can help you start your new chapter more rested and ready to go.
It can also be an opportunity to replace old habits with healthier ones. Even small environmental changes can generate a sort of habit-changing momentum—making it easier to break away from a previous routine.
Also, learning how to flow with change instead of bracing against it can enhance your ability to adapt to future workplace change. Like any other skill, it becomes easier as you do it.
Here are some practical ways you can embrace workplace change and boost your mental well-being along the way:
Implement small self-care tweaks in your routine to make the process easier
A change in routine is a great reason to build healthy habits. What’s more, switching up your environment can actually make habit-building easier—especially if you’re able to create a healthy environment that is more conducive to your desired habits.
As you’re building a new routine, try incorporating small tweaks simply meant to be more kind to yourself. Things like getting to sleep an hour earlier, making time for exercise breaks, working more nutritionally dense foods into your diet, starting the day with positive affirmations… all of these can add up to a much healthier you—and a much happier workday.
Be extra-easy on yourself and others
Instead of holding yourself or others (like new colleagues or managers) to a set of expectations, lead with empathy and give yourself time to accept a certain level of uncertainty. You aren’t expected to be operating in perfect sync from day one! Faced with all the newness, you might even find yourself feeling anxious or grasping for control. That’s 100% okay—it’s totally normal to feel resistance and discomfort in times of change. Remember that you’re in control of your mindset. Self-talk techniques like these can help you keep a realistic, positive outlook.
Also, take time when you need time. That can mean remembering to take personal days or even just 30-minute walks. It sounds simple, but small acts of self-care can easily get lost in the shuffle of transition.
Communicate frequently with managers
An ongoing conversation during a transition can be a huge difference-maker. Remember that change isn’t just happening to you, it’s happening with you. Feedback on the process and help your organization be guided by your experience.
Also, encourage yourself to ask a lot of questions. Nobody expects you to have mastered new work conditions instantly, and being inquisitive means likely shortening the transition period.
Make a point to find out what kind of mental wellness resources are at your disposal. HR pros are available to help make whatever change you’re going through easier for you. The right tools at the right time can do wonders for your mental well-being. Self-serve tools like Calm can offer help on your own time, at your own pace, as you need it.
Refresh your direction and set new goals
If you allow it, change can be an opportunity for you to grow. Take a moment to consciously re-align with what’s meaningful to you and how that fits in the greater mission of your company. Remind yourself why your work is important. Whose lives are you bettering?
Whether you’re in a drastically new position or even just a new office, consider taking the opportunity to refresh where you’re heading. Work with your manager to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) to keep momentum high and give you a clear direction to move towards.
Remember that it won’t always be difficult
Yes, workplace change can be stressful. But we humans have an amazing power to adapt. What’s new will likely soon feel like a comfortable routine. If you do find yourself feeling extra-stressed, recognize that it’s temporary. There are even ways to harness that stress for lasting benefits.
Make this new chapter your own
It’s easy for self-care to get lost in our daily work routines unless we make it a part of our daily work routines. Carve out space for self-care as you adjust to new circumstances, and you’ll find yourself healthier, happier, and more ready on the other side of change.
Want more practical tips to live better at work?
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