Change is hard. Some of us are devoted creatures of habit, adhering to routines and avoiding anything that feels uncomfortable. On the opposite end are adventure enthusiasts, always seeking a new challenge. But, no matter where you fall on that spectrum, everyone has a limit when change is forced upon them.
We’re currently finding our way through a season of forced change. We’re dealing with the fallout of a deadly virus, and many of us have felt completely unprepared at one time or another. Human lives are in jeopardy, unemployment rates have skyrocketed, and on top of it all, we are still separated from our friends and loved ones.
It’s understandable to feel helpless and heartbroken at the devastating effects that the coronavirus pandemic is having on much of the world. We did not want or ask for this kind of change, and yet, we need to find a way to move forward.
So how do we deal with something so unexpected? How do we manage change during such troubled times? The following five tips will help guide you through this process and provide applicable ways to stay positive and make the most of this uncertain time.
1. Be Honest and Allow Yourself Time to Grieve
The coronavirus has impacted each of us in different ways. It’s important to give yourself the space to feel all the emotions that come along with this kind of unexpected change. Be honest and give yourself the space to explore what you’re feeling; you’re human, after all. It may be anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, or some combination of all of the above.
You don’t have to pretend that you have it all together. Whether you’ve lost loved ones, your job, or are feeling weighed down by uncertainty, you need time to process and grieve. It’s important to address your emotions head-on. If you bottle them up or ignore the problem, they’re more likely to manifest in unhealthy or harmful ways.
There’s no easy fix or cure-all, but by honestly acknowledging pain, you can start the healing process. It won’t be easy, but you’ll be one step closer to finding a solution and moving forward.
“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most exciting moments in life take us completely by surprise.” – Lori Deschene
2. Practice Gratitude
Your life has been disrupted. Daily routines, future plans, and social circles have been tossed out the window. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when all you can see is the negativity in your life. That said, the best way to fight negativity is to focus on the positive.
Find small things to be grateful for every day. You might struggle with this at first, but try to shift your perspective. Try keeping a gratitude journal and jot down a few things you are thankful for every day. If writing isn’t your thing, you can share what you are grateful for with a spouse, family member, or friend.
If you are intentional about focusing on the positive, no matter the situation, it will soon become a habit. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but by choosing gratitude, there will be small moments of light, joy, and laughter that might make the weight of change easier to bear.
3. Find a Rhythm to the New Normal
It takes time to adjust whenever you encounter change. This is especially true when it’s an unwanted change for which you didn’t ask.
To ease this process, try to add structure to your day. Find order amidst the chaos; if you’re newly unemployed, for example, be intentional about setting an alarm and getting up at a regular time. It might seem silly, but by going through the motions of daily life, you can help jumpstart your motivation and free yourself from a negative mindset.
In contrast, if you’re working remotely for the first time, try following a strict schedule to help you stay productive and focused. When most of the things in your life feel out of control, it’s helpful to focus on what you can control. It’s possible to find a rhythm to the new normal, and to add consistency and stability to your day.
4. Surround Yourself With Support
When going through unexpected change, it’s important to surround yourself with a strong support system. The coronavirus pandemic has made this especially hard, though; most of the population is still separated, and normal social engagement just isn’t as simple as it once was.
Although it’s going to take more effort and creativity, it’s still possible to stay in touch with friends and family. There are countless virtual communication platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and Facebook Messenger.
We all need to feel heard and understood during times of hardship. If you’re struggling with feelings of loneliness and anxiety, reach out to a friend or loved one. It’s critical to remember that, even when you’re physically isolated, you are never alone.
5. Invest in Yourself
You might suddenly find yourself with a lot more time on your hands than before. Rather than giving in to boredom, though, you can leverage this as an opportunity to expand your knowledge and skill set.
Use this time to do some of the things you wanted to try, but never had a minute to spare. This could be learning a new language, trying out a new recipe, picking up a new instrument, reading a book, or simply spending more time with your children.
It’s okay to take time for yourself. You might feel like your world is falling apart, and that’s understandable. Invest in yourself. Setting aside time for yourself and participating in activities or hobbies that you love will help ease the pain and fear of navigating this uncertain time.
Keep Moving Forward
During a time of worldwide unrest, self-isolation, and economic upheaval, it’s hard not to feel helpless. The urge to give up and spend your day binging Netflix is all too appealing. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give yourself the space to unwind and do nothing; in fact, that’s going to be necessary to help you recharge from time to time.
I encourage you to keep moving forward, though. Keep setting goals and continue planning for the future. We won’t be in this situation forever, and hope can be found in the act of movement and of reaching towards something.
The unexpected change brought about by the coronavirus outbreak affects people across the globe and from all walks of life. It’s possible, though, to process and deal with this change in a healthy way. We will get through this. It won’t always be easy, but you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to try.