The graph below shows the change curve, from The Change Maker Group. I’d briefly like to map the current situation and suggest a couple of coping strategies.
Shock: We find ourselves in unprecedented times. This is not a small change, it is not a welcomed change. It is an enormous, dynamic change with an impending sense of uncertainty. Just remember, it will end and we will all reach normality again.
Denial: anxiety can be defined fearing the unknown, or anticipatory anxiety. We struggle to think clearly about what life will look life after that change has passed because we have no actual data on how the change will materialise. We have well surpassed this point on the curve.
Frustration: The number of times where you’ve no doubt felt frustrated over the last 4-6 weeks is likely countless. The ways that we shop, work, socialise, communicate, exercise etc. have all been manipulated as a result of the safety measures surrounding this pandemic. Parents are home-schooling while trying to attend conference calls, people are trying to jog or walk while keeping at least 2 meters from others, neighbours are only just now learning the names of their fellows as they ask them over the fence if they’re doing ok. Some are frustrated they cannot work; some are frustrated that they are still required to. Families are frustrated they are under one roof with little breathing space, while some are isolated alone, irritated they cannot leave the house.
I imagine the path of the curve between Frustration and Acceptance is like a treadmill. Keep up the pace and you will cover ground but stop and you will go backwards.
Depression: The coping mechanisms that have helped me so far are all very simple, free and readily-available. I have exercised most days, even just for 30 minutes, by watching YouTube videos or going for a run (I strongly dislike running!). I have been reading: fiction, non-fictions, blogs… it really doesn’t matter, but I just love reading so I am making the time to do that. I am only human, so I have certainly also found a lot of pleasure in chocolate, cheese and real ales. And that’s ok!
Maintain as much of the routines that provide you with stability, strength and tranquillity. Whatever you do, ensure that it is something that keeps you and those under your roof as happy and sane as you can during this time. Talk to others who are uplifting, support each other and be kind.
Acceptance: Now feels like the time that we should work on our businesses, work on ourselves, bake banana bread or turn the lounge into a home gym. In truth, you may do those things, but you may not and that is something it is vitally important to learn to accept as ok! The thing that matters most is that we all come out the other side with our mental health intact. Accept this time in your life and accept that however you deal with it, to an extent, is ok.
Experiment: You may experiment, whether in your work or your personal life over the coming weeks and months. You may choose to learn new skills or revisit old ones. You’ll likely find a point where you feel more resilient and want to experience something different. This doesn’t mean you have to learn a new language or become the next Picasso overnight, but you may experiment within your business. What’s that idea you’ve always wanted to play out? Now may well be the time to try it.
New Normal: As for a new normal. I can’t offer any words of wisdom here because the simple fact is that none of us know what normal will look like; I refer back to my first point regarding anticipatory anxiety. Instead, I will make a wish. I wish you, your staff and your loved ones a safe transition throughout quarantine and into life after this pandemic.
During times of struggle, a trusted colleague used to remind the team of this:
“Everything will be alright in the end. So, if it is not alright, it is not yet the end.”
Stay safe, stay well.