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Change Management ... Coping with the Stress and Anxiety

Change Management normally deals with a physical change with your environment or a change in your work-flows. Re-engineering processes can be fun and invigorating if done in a positive forward thinking sense while in other cases Change is thrust upon you due to external circumstances.

The speed and effectiveness of Change Management can be controlled through Project Plans and regular updates. But there is a hidden aspect of Change Management that deserves just as much attention if not more. We need to look at how the Stress and Anxiety of Change Management influences our culture and personal well-being.

COVID sure did a number on us all and our organizations and bluntly I think people are tired of change. We all talk about the physical attributes related to change like working from home, the wearing of a mask or not and the need for physical distancing and the rules just keep changing. But what about all of the Stress and Anxiety these changes impose on our psyche?

To make more sense about the mental state of us all let us explore and hopefully better understand the phycological effects that Stress and Anxiety is doing to us. Then, how to cope internally as either Leaders or individuals.

STRESS will be there ...

When Covid first appeared we all thought we just needed to be good and diligent for around 2 weeks and this thing would pass. Well it did not and what started to invade our minds and daily life was 'Stress". Stress from finding a balance in working from home while still looking after the kids at the same time. Thank you WebEx, Zoom, Skype and MS Teams.

Stress and fear of going out to pick up those necessary supplies ... Thank goodness for Delivery Services like Skip-the-Dishes and Uber Eats.

So I get it, people were stressed [me too], But everyone needs to understand that :

  • Stress creates Change

  • Change Creates Stress

For example, we all were stressed about potentially contacting Covid so we decided that working from home would be safer [Change] and once we migrated to working from home we got stressed about if we were being productive, stressed about life/work balance [doing work for your employer and the work related to running the house hold].

Stress is a constant element of Change and obviously needs to addressed. But Stress can quickly evolve into Anxiety.

ANXIETY Is possible

Anxiety can be construed as a type of mental health condition. Anxiety makes it difficult to get through your day. Symptoms include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear. Although Anxiety is viewed as a personal trait you will find the symptoms within Teams or Departments attempting to migrate through change.

Typically, they are slow to adopt change or will defend making any change with a range of concerns to stall the inevitable.


Think of the Window of Tolerance as a river and you are floating down it. When the river narrows, it is fast and feels unsafe. When it widens, it slows down and you:

  • Are at a balanced and calm state of mind.

  • Feel relaxed and in control.

  • Are able to function most effectively.

  • Are able to take on any challenge life throws at you.

Although described from an individual's perspective the same symptoms and attributes can be identified within a Team, Department or Organization.

When you are in your Window of Tolerance, you feel like you can deal with whatever is happening in your life. You might feel stress or pressure but it does not bother you too much. This is the ideal place to be.

When Stress and Anxiety shrink your Window of Tolerance it does not take much to throw you off balance. Your feelings and actions can be categorized as either Hyperarousal or Dysregulation:

Hyperarousal indicators

  • Anxious, Angry, Out of Control.

  • Overwhelmed.

  • Your body wants to either Fight or Run Away.

Dysregulation indicators

  • You do not feel comfortable but you are not out of control yet.

  • Spacey, Zoned Out, Numb, Frozen.

  • Your body wants to shut down.

Learning about COPING

Working with a facilitator can help expand your Window of Tolerance so that you are more able to cope with challenges.

Typically either as an individual or a team follow the 5 "D"s of Coping:

  • DELAY | Call time out and breathe for a couple of minutes (5-5-5).

  • DISTRACT | Occupy yourself with an activity that requires attention.

  • DISTANCE | Take a step back and begin to ask yourself what do I have control over now?

  • DETERMINE | Come up with some possible options or responses.

  • DECIDE | Do it.


Stress and Anxiety are typically by-products of change but it seems that currently these attributes are highly articulated. We are seeing people and even entire organizations stall and hunkering down, deciding to "Do Nothing" to improve their business, fearing for the worst that could happen to the business.

At the same time they will confess that they are going through a lot of change ... but that change is tactile and related to Covid, the economy and shifting Business conditions (which are currently completely unpredictable) so you need to find balance between strategic and tactile.

Or as my accountant reminded me when I was super stressed out about deciding to pay off my mortgage because it would drain my bank account ... he asked if after I had paid the debt was I planning to stop working?


We can help you with Change Management. With our facilitation you will learn how to prepare, equip and support individuals moving through changes so that they successfully adopt those changes [Window of Tolerance]. Without adoption, changes will not be successful and your organization will not deliver the desired outcomes. In essence, we can help you create the enabling framework for managing the people side of change.

Now that you are aware of some of the Physiological aspects related to Change Management you still need to be able to answer those initial 3 questions:

  • Why are we Changing?

  • What are Changing?

  • What are we Changing too?

Contact us to turn stress and anxiety into positive drivers of improvement.


We do more than just blog. We're active Lean practitioners who would love to help you achieve your productivity goals.

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