I am currently working with a number of organisations and every one of them is navigating change and uncertainty. Every one of them. In fact, as I think back to my 25 year career in Local Government, I’m hard pressed to think of a time when things were static – when there was no change. It really has become the norm, this change and uncertainty, in both our personal and professional lives. From workplace transformations and organisational restructuring to global events like the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel, change and uncertainty have a profound impact on our mental health. Given it’s what we live with now on a daily basis, these pages we will explore how to handle these challenges, understand common reactions to change, and most importantly, how to nurture our mental health along that journey.
Uncertainty and Stressors
Change can take various forms, and it often arrives uninvited. Whether it’s driven by internal factors, external circumstances, or a combination of both, the reality is that change is a constant presence in our lives. At the organisational level, political imperatives, restructuring, and external factors can contribute to heightened stress and anxiety. Additionally, the global events we witness can affect us on a personal level as we navigate our daily lives, even if we don’t realise that impact.
Normal Reactions to Change
Change can elicit a wide range of emotions, and what’s normal varies from person to person. When faced with change, it’s typical to experience a mix of emotions, including fear, anger, denial, and overwhelm. It’s important to remember that these reactions are valid, and there’s no one-size-fits-all response to change. Moreover, change isn’t inherently negative; it can lead to positive outcomes and personal growth. Embrace your feelings and reach out for support if needed.
Nurturing Mental Health
Amidst change and uncertainty, taking care of our mental health becomes paramount. Let’s explore some ways to achieve this:
- Self-Care and Self-Awareness
Self-care is more than just a bubble bath or face mask; it’s about self-awareness. To nurture your mental well-being, practice self-awareness by regularly checking in with yourself. Ask questions like:
- What does it look and feel like when I’m feeling well or unwell?
- What recharges my batteries?
- Am I being kind to myself?
Remember, self-care is being self-aware and it’s a continuous practice that involves listening to yourself, setting boundaries, and prioritising your needs.
- Learn Coping Mechanisms
Discover and utilise stress management techniques that work for you. Deep breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, and physical activity can be effective in reducing stress. Experiment with different strategies to find what supports you best.
- Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
Your physical health and mental health are interconnected. Ensure you’re eating balanced meals, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep. A healthy body equips you to better handle stress and uncertainty.
- Connect with Others
Lean on your support network, which may include friends, family, and coworkers. Sharing your feelings with others can lighten your emotional load and provide a sense of understanding. Colleagues may be going through similar experiences, making them valuable sources of advice and empathy.
- Seek Professional Help
If you’re struggling with your mental health, seeking professional help is a wise decision, not a sign of weakness. Therapists and counsellors can provide a safe space for you to discuss your feelings, gain insights, and learn coping strategies.
Where to Turn for Support
When you need extra support, there are various avenues you can explore:
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): (if you’re employed and your employer provides an EAP service). This confidential service offers counselling and support for you and your family, addressing issues at work, personal challenges, and overall wellbeing.
- Better Access Initiative – GP: Start with your general practitioner to understand your situation and, if needed, receive a Mental Health Plan.
- MHFAiders: If you have trained Mental Health First Aiders or Champions within your organisation, reach out to them for advice and support. These individuals have commonly completed Mental Health First Aid training.
- Health and Wellbeing/Human Resources: Your organisation’s health and wellbeing coordinators and HR staff can offer information and support.
- Colleagues and Supervisors: Don’t underestimate the value of connecting with coworkers and supervisors who may have experienced similar changes and uncertainties.
Change and uncertainty are constant companions on life’s journey. Your feelings, reactions, and well-being are valid and significant. Prioritising your mental health is essential as you navigate these challenges. If you need support, remember that you’re not alone. By practicing self-care, learning coping mechanisms, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, connecting with others, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can safeguard your mental health and stay resilient during challenging times. Your well-being is worth every effort.
You can find more information on Workplace Wellbeing and Mental Health Training here.
Written by Michelle McFadyen