Changes at Work Cause Stress — 5 Strategies for Success

by Ayla Lewis
Is change at work causing you stress? Have you noticed the quality of–and satisfaction in–your work going down?

Scientists have found that most kinds of change are difficult for our brains because we have a negativity bias—causing us to focus and sometimes even dwell on the negative around us.  As humans, we are wired to either avert threats or seek rewards, but not both at the same time.

The uncertainty of change at work often triggers our negative responses, which are hard-wired in us. Research suggests that these negative states of mind reduce our ability to problem solve, be creative and effectively collaborate.

The good news is that you can harness this knowledge to do better work (and enjoy it more) even during times of change and uncertainty.

Here are 5 researched-based solutions that you can ‘test and learn’ with individually or on your teams at work:

Have the Courage to Fail: During transition and change, don’t just tolerate the mistakes you and your colleagues make, celebrate most of them! Failure happens when people are taking action, taking risks, learning, and growing. We can learn a great deal from our failures which can be key to achieving innovation.

Fake It Until You Make It: Smile. Sit up straight. Walk with a spring in your step. Act happier than you feel, if need be. Many studies show that what you do with your face and body affects how you feel. By ‘faking it until you make it,’ you may find you have a more positive attitude—and can better connect with others–as you approach the change you want to make at work.

Talk with a Mentor: Find someone more experienced or knowledgeable than you—other than your boss–who can help guide you to greater success. A mentor can share suggestions from a different perspective, and you may be able to ask your mentor something that is difficult to address with your boss.

Set Positive Goals: Phrase your goals in positive terms. Rather than stating what you want to prevent or avoid, describe the change you want to see. Positive goals are more motivating and spur more success. For example, instead of saying “I want to multi-task less”, say “I want to get into flow more.”

Stop Thinking in Ruts: When you notice yourself ‘stuck on the hamster wheel’ of negative thinking, stop! Research is clear that ruminating leads to unhappiness. Try to get to the root of the issue instead and then take action to solve it.

How you do you typically deal with change and uncertainty at work? If you like, write down: how might I apply one or two of the strategies from this post to increase my success and innovation, even during tough times? We would love to see your thoughts in a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Ayla Lewis

As Director of Operations at Happy Brain Science, Ayla thrives most when helping individuals and organizations to maximize their success through the application of positive psychology and neuroscience.

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