It’s Okay To… find change difficult

By Julia Davies, Senior Change Manager, Change and Improvement Team

It’s also okay to find change exciting and energising. The fact is that as people, we respond to change in different ways depending on our unique experiences. How we respond to change at one time may be very different to how we respond the next time. Understanding our own response, and the responses of those around us, can help to bring people together and build energy for change.

Some people find it reassuring to look at the Kubler-Ross ‘change curve’. This demonstrates the emotions that people often experience with change; not everyone will experience all these emotions, and that is okay. Some people will spend a long time in one stage of the change curve and may even go backwards along the curve before going forward again, and that is also okay. What is important is understanding that a variety of reactions to change is normal and is part of a psychological process. If we can understand this in ourselves and in our colleagues, we can work effectively and supportively together.

It is also interesting to consider the difference between change and transition. Change is an external event, whereas transition is a psychological process that a person experiences when moving from one state to another. This process can be quick and easy for some, but others experience a challenging time letting go of the past and adjusting to whatever the required future state may be. For leaders and managers, it is important to recognise that people will be going through this stage of transitioning from the old to the new at different rates. Most will get there in the end but there are things that we can do to support people and help them to move from ‘a’ to ‘b’. The change team can help with this.

Whatever your reaction to change or the reactions of your colleagues, it’s  okay, and we have a change team here to support managers and leaders in understanding their team’s response to change and planning effectively. For more information and advice, follow our Yammer page ‘Changing Times’, visit our intranet site, or book a change clinic appointment with a qualified change manager.  We also have some top tips for individuals on coping with change.


It’s Okay To… be real

By Erin Dooley, Research Associate, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

I’ve been enjoying this blog, and I think it’s such a good idea. It has been very thought-provoking, and I’ve been using ‘It’s okay’ just as a mantra when things don’t seem to go right. Not being much of a blog writer, I wrote a poem. I do think that maybe some ‘It’s okay’ poems and artwork from other members of staff would be great, especially since we’re coming up to one year of COVID, and I think that a lot of colleagues are more and more reflective.

It’s okay to rise and fall like the new circadian rhythm, beat, beat,
banging to a totally different drum

It’s okay to preen and pat that unruly coif, just at the front, appeasing the webcam gods,
hair washed last Tuesday (or maybe it was Monday?); a hairband, a hat, the filter of a sullen cat

It’s okay to shed a tear, mourn the lost year, the fear,
the fear of dying alone or forever wed to your mobile phone

It’s okay to skip a meal, or maybe eat more, at the table, off the floor,
imbibe before the flickering box, in greying pants and threadbare socks

It’s okay to let your polish chip, your morale to dip,
to love that one long hair growing above your lip

It’s okay to take comfort in unruly brows and frequent scowls,
avoid the outdoor space and crowds

It’s okay to find a different self, beneath the mask, to question all and ask, ask, ask ‘Why?’

And be sure to reply ‘It’s okay’.


It’s Okay To… stare out of the window

By Bryony Enright, Postgraduate Faculty Employability Consultant, Careers Service

I recently took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. This happens once a year during January and involves individuals, couples and families all over the UK watching the birds in their garden or from their window for an hour. The idea is to count the birds you see and enter how many of what you saw on the RSPB website. It provides important data for conservation and species numbers within the UK.

I took part for an hour one Saturday when my son was napping. I sat with a coffee and some old binoculars and watched the starlings, wood pigeons and – would you believe it – a blackcap (!) for a blissful hour. It was wonderful. It was the calmest and most at peace I’ve felt for as long as I can remember. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I stopped and took a whole hour for myself to do something other than watch TV.

I was so affected by the positive impact this hour staring out of the window had on the rest of my weekend that I’ve started embracing more staring out of the window during my working week. I desperately feel the need to look away from the screen, to switch off and embrace the quiet. Life with a toddler is noisy! I’ve brought my binoculars upstairs and they sit next to me on my desk. I can see the top of a hawthorn from my spare bedroom where I work. There is currently a crow on next door’s roof and a couple of sparrows hopping about (not everyday can be a blackcap day). I’ve also started to buy more and more elaborate bird feed to try and encourage different species.

I used to feel guilty for drifting off during working from home, losing concentration and staring out of the window, but now I embrace this mindful practice as an important way to calm my frazzled brain. I often end a Zoom meeting with a good ten minutes staring out of the window. I plan on taking another hour for myself this weekend to look at the birds and reconnect with some inner peacefulness.


It’s Okay To… FEEL

By Dr Keith Beasley, Postgraduate Senior Admissions Administrator, School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies 

This pandemic, the resulting lockdowns, and the impact of both on how we all live at the moment, are too big to brush under the carpet and ignore. It will affect us – it already is affecting us – on so many levels. And It’s Okay To… have strong and painful feelings about it.

Actually, it has always been okay to have feelings about things.

It has always been okay to talk about these feelings and our emotional responses to the events happening around us. But how many of us do talk about it – particularly while at work?

It’s Okay To… feel more and think less.

I think that if we are to get through this, we have to get out more.

And not just physically – although our daily allowed exercise is also essential – but mentally and emotionally. We have to get out of our own thinking heads more often. We need to feel, sense and connect on an emotional level, be that with nature, with ourselves or with our colleagues.

Our whole working lives so far have been about thinking things through, reasoning, figuring out issues, whether professionally or academically. It’s not easy for many of us to disconnect from the rational thinking side of ourselves!

The breakthrough in my own mental health challenges came when I first realised that I think too much. Which for me was a bit like admitting that I have an addiction! We are addicted to thinking.

Managers, academics and administrators pride themselves on being objective, and not being swayed by emotional influences. But in reality, we are human beings who both think and feel, aren’t we?

It’s not just okay to talk about our feelings, it’s essential for our wellbeing.

Why have mindfulness, meditation and similar practices been so effective and so appreciated in recent years? I would suggest it is because they encourage and enable us to get out of our heads for a short while.

Doing something creative or connecting with nature achieves the same thing. Doing these things will help us to establish a more natural balance between thinking and feeling, and I would encourage you to indulge in these activities more frequently.

For deeper, more long-term benefits, it also helps if we can admit: ‘I think too much’. And to understand that It’s Okay To … think less and feel more.