top of page

Why Change Freaks Us Out, and What You Can Do About It

We live in unprecedented times. It feels like the events over the last few weeks have changed the very fabric of our society.

· Our precious freedoms and liberties have been curtailed in a state-imposed locked-down.

· Normal business has all but shut down with government-supporting employees, the self-employed and gig workers, who are either working from home, on furlough or having to rely on state benefits.

· Our views on heroism have shifted; our “true heroes” are recognised as the front-line workers risking their own lives daily to care for others, essential workers ensuring food supplies, deliveries, and public safety, all holding our fragile communities together, sustained it seems only by our national outpouring of gratitude.

Some people cope with change and stress better than others. From an evolutionary perspective, our brains look for things to stay the same so we know where we can get food, feel safe and fit in the social hierarchy. Change up-ends all that because it runs the risk of potential hunger, danger or confusion and might explain why some of us avoid change, possibly staying in jobs or relationships we hate as the alternative might be worse.

Psychologists suggest it’s our survival instincts and hardwiring for resilience that kicks in during change and allows us to adapt and thrive beyond it. Dr Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her research on grief, suggests we will go through 4 main stages of change:

· Shock/disbelief – a sudden change, like the pandemic we are currently facing, can feel like a punch as all the things we know and have relied on are suddenly swept away. We become confused and feel powerless, especially when there is little reliable information available to us, which may lead to increasing levels of stress and anxiety which may manifest itself in behaviours such as the recent panic buying and the huge outpouring of support and volunteering as a way of sense-making and wellbeing.

Interestingly, these stages are also widely acknowledged in the context of business-related change such as a reorganisation or introduction of new technology or processes. In business change, the aim is to reduce the time in stages 2 and 3 and, to borrow a phrase, “flatten the curve”, by providing as much support and information as possible to move the business through to stage 4 as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So how do we better cope with change at this difficult time?

· Accept that stress is an inevitable consequence of the uncertainty created by the pandemic.

· Don’t try to control your emotions, acknowledge the emotional distress, panic and fear. It’s quite normal to feel this way and it will pass

· Allow yourself to freak out (safely) and then you’ll be ready to seek out ways to make the new norm acceptable, whatever that looks like post-lockdown and pandemic and move on

· Don’t keep thinking of the past. It just makes it harder to focus on the present and stops you from making the best of the new things that are to come.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
No tags yet.
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page