The effects of change on mental health

We have all heard the old adage that there are only three certainties in life: birth, death and taxes. Underpinning these three is one constant—change. In many cases, change can be positive and rejuvenating. However, during times of economic uncertainty, a global pandemic, budget cuts and restructuring, the cumulative impact of these changes can have a negative impact on mental health.

Signs and symptoms that change is negatively impacting mental health:

  • emotional fatigue
  • apathy
  • increased use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • anxiety and panic
  • anger or frustration
  • decreased productivity
  • unexpected emotions
  • difficulty managing work and/or personal life
  • physical exhaustion
  • restlessness/sleeplessness
  • rigid thinking
  • decreased self-esteem/self-confidence

Despite ongoing change and pressure, there are some things you can do to improve your overall mental health and wellbeing.

Manage stress: We all have stressors in our work and personal lives, but learning how to manage them before they threaten to overwhelm us is critical.

Self-confidence: Identify your abilities and build on them. Identify your weaknesses and be aware of them. Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behaviour, your body language, your work and your play.

Provide and accept support: Be willing to offer support and assistance to your colleagues if you sense they may be struggling. In return, it is as important to be willing to accept and ask for assistance when needed. In times of change, when information is not readily available, your feelings of anxiety may be amplified. Consider speaking to your manager or supervisor.

Be realistic: It is likely that workplace demands and workload will increase. Be kind to yourself and set attainable, achievable goals.

Maintain a sense of humour: Having a sense of humour about life’s difficulties can provide a way to bond with others, look at things in a different way, normalize your experience, and keep things from appearing too overwhelming or scary.

Maintain nutrition and physical activity: When we are under stress, we tend to make interesting nutritional choices that can actually affect our stress levels. Ensuring you are eating nutritious, well-balanced meals can help by reducing the impact of stress on the body, repairing the damage done by stress, and optimally preparing the body for future stress. Exercise can be an extremely effective stress reliever and decrease stress by increasing endorphins, giving your mental outlook a natural boost.

Please be reminded that mental health support is available for all faculty, staff and their eligible dependents 24/7.

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