What's your "stability zone"?
How many times have you had "one of those days"?
You know, when it seems as if everything in your life changed overnight? There are new initiatives at work, a new set of procedures to learn, new colleagues to get to know, a new office location to become familiar with. it just goes on!
At the end of one of those days, it's a huge relief to get home! You walk in the door, and suddenly the stress disappears. You're surrounded by the people you love, by all the comforts of your familiar things. Home is your safe place, and when you're there, the stress of work is far away.
The challenges that arise from change are common. Every time we turn around, it seems like technology has changed – and many people feel pressured to keep up with this fast pace. Do you carry your Blackberry everywhere and take working vacations? Instead of relaxing at night, do you use your laptop to catch up even more?
If this sounds like you, you may feel burned out, overworked and overwhelmed. The good news is that you can create personal "Stability Zones" to help you manage the change in your life. Familiar places – like home or a favorite coffee shop – can become much-needed escapes to let your mind and body re-energize and renew themselves.
Alvin Toffler first presented the concept of personal Stability Zones in his 1971 book, "Future Shock." Although the theory was never accepted academically, it's still interesting and relevant to what many of us face today.
Toffler's concept is fairly simple. Stability Zones are places or things that make you feel safe, relaxed, and secure. Think of them as buffers – types of protection or defense – against the outside world. When you're in or with your Stability Zone, you feel safe. It's something safe and familiar, something that doesn't change.
And they're not limited to specific places. They can be things, people, objects, or even ideas:
As an employer or leader, understand the importance of Stability Zones for your staff, and encourage your team to use them often. These can be most helpful when a company is going through a major transition, such as a takeover. But they can also help you and your staff handle the day-to-day stresses of the work environment.
If you work in a "hot desking" environment, where others use your desk or workstation when you're not there, it may be hard to have a Place Stability Zone at the office. In this situation, you may want to carry objects with you that create these zones – like photographs – or you may want to rely more on less physical types of Stability Zones – such as people or ideas – to help you manage change.
To determine your personal Stability Zones, start by thinking of two or three options for each type listed above. Then, narrow them down by asking yourself these questions:
In the workplace, it can be important for people to have Stability Zones. If you're in charge of a team and you think that members of your team are struggling with change, then teach them about Stability Zones, and help them find ways to use them during a difficult day to rest and re-gain energy.
Help create Stability Zones in your workplace by doing the following:
Our world seems to change faster every day. Managing this change can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. This is why having familiar, safe zones can be so important for your well-being. Stability Zones – people, places, ideas, objects, or organizations – can offer you a feeling of security. They can let your mind rest from the change and stress around you.
If members of your team are struggling with change, then educate them on the importance of Stability Zones, and have a plan to create Stability Zones in the workplace. Doing so may enable your staff to renew their mental energy, and it may give them the ability to cope better with stress and change.
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