As more of us return to the worksite or adjust to new working styles, this often includes making changes in our routines and how we do things. Perhaps you have to take on additional roles or work with a different team.
Understandably, all this change might be making you feel a bit apprehensive, maybe even overwhelmed and exhausted. But this past year, you’ve proven that you can pivot, even when the entire world—literally—shuts down. The resilience skills you’ve been sharpening, even if it’s felt rocky at times, will serve you well as you adjust yet again.
For a smoother, more successful adjustment to new ways of working, here are five practical strategies to add to your resilience toolkit:
1. Pinpoint the positives
Our brains interpret change as a threat, scanning for potential dangers and preparing to fight or flee. So it’s understandable if you’re only seeing the downsides of changes in the way you’ve been working. Being resilient, however, means you’re aware of this negativity bias and can flag gloomy thoughts—and pivot.
Remind yourself of the potential perks. Going into the worksite, for example, might mean you can catch up with longtime coworkers, take shared walks during lunch, and engage in interesting conversations, says Iris Vargas-Pagan, a licensed social worker with The Keely Group in New York City.
Take some time to jot down the positives of the situation. What experiences are you excited about? What activities can you plan for and create?
2. Prepare for snags
Resilient people are problem solvers. Although the uncertainty of a transition might be stressful, one solution is to plan ahead. Being prepared is a powerful way to reduce uncertainty and needless stress.
Try the If/Then technique: “IF situation X happens, THEN I will do Y.” With this formula, you can anticipate potential challenges and make sustainable plans. Here are some examples:
- If I run into a problem with my first project, then I’ll ask my colleague for help.
- If I don’t have time to eat breakfast at home, then I’ll grab oatmeal at the nearby coffeeshop.
- If I can’t pick my daughter up from school, then I’ll ask a relative or friend to get her.
3. Extend empathy
Empathy is a core factor of resilience and a powerful way to reconnect with your colleagues, thereby bolstering your support network. This past year, people have had wide-ranging experiences and heartaches. As Lauren Lake, a Maryland-based licensed clinical professional counselor, points out, the pandemic “affected everyone uniquely and differently.”
To empathize, start with listening. Provide a validating space for others to share whatever they’d like to without assuming that you know what they’ve been through and without interrupting or judging them.
Similarly, practice patience with teammates, reminding yourself that others, too, might be stumbling around as they adjust to new rules and routines. This includes not jumping to conclusions, says Nicole Giambrone, a licensed mental health counselor at Empower Your Mind Therapy in New York City.
4. Supercharge your energy
“Being alert, attentive, engaging, and present within an ever-evolving work environment requires a healthy body and mind,” says Lake. Throughout your workday, focus on small but potent ways you can upgrade your energy.
This can mean avoiding energy drains, such as work rants and gossip sessions. And, according to Lake, it can involve energy boosters, such as:
- Taking a break away from your office space or screen.
- Eating a meal for lunch, versus scarfing down a quick sugary snack.
Another way to promote positive energy? Engage in activities you enjoy. Can you take a walk in the mornings? Or walk another time of day? In other words, incorporate fulfilling, stress-relieving habits into your new routines.
5. Become change-ready
Becoming change-ready, thereby embracing change, means moving from feeling helpless to taking empowered action.
When a seemingly stressful situation arises, you might second-guess yourself and stay stuck. Why haven’t any of my coworkers reached out yet? Will I be able to do that project? What if I choke?
The key to moving forward is to practice supportive self-talk. Transform concerns and self-doubts into empowering statements or concrete solutions. Giambrone gives a few examples:
- Change “I can’t do this” to “Just one step at a time.”
- Change “No one is communicating with me” to “How can I open lines of communication and reach out to a colleague today?”
- Change “I can’t do this task, since I’ve never done it before” to “This is a chance to learn something new.”
Change can easily overwhelm us, but don’t sell yourself short in your ability to adapt to new situations. As Lake reminds us, acknowledge and celebrate your wins—big or small.