Just when we thought there was a light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delta variant hit and mask mandates are back in many states. Families have returned from summer vacations and are now preparing for new COVID-19 protocols to ensure safety in their workplaces, children’s schools, and childcare centers. As we enter the fall, it’s another big transition filled with uncertainty and increased stress.
The Upside recently explored this topic in an article by Bailey Miller which shares insights from Positive Psychology expert, speaker, and executive coach Stella Grizont on how to thrive during this period of transition.
Here’s a summary of her four best tips to help employees develop inner skills, including resilience, to help conquer the return to work (and school) environment as many parents juggle new fall schedules.
1) Use Play to Adapt to the Unknown
In the face of uncertainty, we often lean too much into "our brain's natural instinct to pay attention and be alert to anything that is potentially bad, wrong, or threatening," points out Grizont. To stop ourselves from falling prey to this negativity bias, Grizont suggests we lean into our "play mindset" and start viewing the unknown as new and exciting.
Tip: An easy way to cultivate this mindset is to reframe your obligations so they seem more like opportunities. For example, instead of starting a sentence with "I have to…", start it with, "I get to…."
2) Build A Strong Support System
Managing a transition into the unknown is that much easier when you feel supported. Grizont explains that you can reach out for support in many ways, such as having a Zoom workout session with friends, finding a mentor, or talking to your colleagues about concrete ways they can show up for you. If your company doesn’t already have a formal mentoring program, this is a great opportunity to introduce a career development program that helps build relationships between senior executives and more junior employees.
Tip: Support can also be an inside job. Try visualizing the support you need, especially when you're feeling overwhelmed or isolated.
3) Acknowledge Your Wins
Sometimes, it's easy to feel like you're not doing enough, especially when working on big projects or handling large waves of uncertainty. But taking stock of simple wins and progress that you're making in your life can help put things in perspective. When we do that, says Grizont, "we're reminding ourselves that we have choices, we made choices, and we are shaping our reality." Consider kicking off team meetings with a weekly ‘brag’ or incorporating ‘shoutouts’ for team members in your monthly internal newsletters to encourage this culture of positive acknowledgment within your workplace.
Tip: Make your positive workplace a reality by celebrating your wins, not just learning from losses.
4) Embrace the Rollercoaster of Emotions
Last, but not least, slow down and feel all the feels! Grizont recommends taking time to acknowledge the inner conflict you might be facing instead of bottling it up as if it doesn't matter. "What we resist persists," she warns. "Bottling up your emotions, and pretending to be happy if you're not, can actually make those emotions get stronger." Instead, Grizont recommends having a "board meeting" with the different parts of yourself where you "take stock of all the different voices that you're experiencing, and really ask yourself 'What am I feeling? What's the perspective here? What are the feelings associated with it?' And really hear yourself out," she says.
Tip: Explore your inner voices. Stop the desire to bottle up your negative emotions and acknowledge them, then let them go.