This post is also available in: 简体中文 繁體中文
Change is inevitable. As much as we don’t like changes, we can usually adapt to it. But if changes come unexpectedly, or quickly, or unfairly, or many changes occurring at once, it can be overwhelming. With the pandemic, we have all experienced sudden changes and disruptions to our way of life, leading to different kinds of losses. Schools and businesses are closed. Our original plans or routines now need to be abandoned or changed. Many people experience financial or job losses. Family and social gatherings, recreational activities, and community programs are stopped, leading to losses of some of our social connections and activities that usually support our wellbeing. Important rituals and milestones, from birthday and anniversary celebrations to marriages to yearly festivities, are all impacted. Psychologically, we are also losing a sense of safety, control, or freedom. Here are some tips to adapt to these changes and losses:
- Awareness of our reactions to losses: Acknowledge your feelings that come with unexpected changes and losses. Sadness, anger, anxiety, or frustration are very common and part of our normal reaction. Being aware of them and allowing room for them can help us cope with changes more effectively.
- Not getting stuck in our thoughts: When changes do occur, our minds tend to focus on the negative aspects of it. We may even see the future negatively – “I can never be happy again.” It is called “catastrophizing”. When we ruminate, thinking about our losses over and over again, it does not really help us move forward. It is helpful to challenge our thoughts to gain perspective. It is also helpful to mindfully accept our thoughts and feelings.
- Flexibly adapt to different situations: With an open attitude, try new ways of doing things, even if this is not “the usual” for you. Flexibility is the key. Maybe your basic routines, such as grocery shopping and banking, have changed. Maybe the roles and responsibilities within your family has changed. Maybe you are now pulled to do more childcare and teaching with your children than you are normally used to. Maybe your exercise routines have changed. Allow yourself time to get used to these changes, knowing that all of this feels strange in the beginning. This adaptation may also involve the use of the internet and new technology. For example, many religious services are going online. Some workout programs are available online for people at home to follow. You may even try out a virtual party with your friends.
- Ask for help: With changes and losses, do not feel you have to cope with it by doing it alone. Reach out to your friends, families, and the community. There are many community services. Try out our live-chat support line!
- Not everything has to change: Maintain a daily schedule for things that do not have to change, such as waking up at the same time each day and having the proper meals. A sense of structure and stability can help us focus our energy on the changes we have to make.
- Practice gratitude daily: As hard as it is to tolerate losses, we can be grateful for people and things that we still have in our lives. Do a Gratitude Diary. Write down 3 people or things that you are grateful for today and what they mean to you.
- Seize the opportunities for growth: It is often through the experience of changes and losses that we learn to stretch ourselves and grow. All experiences, whether positive or negative, can be a learning experience. Some people use this time to learn a new skill. Others use this time for personal reflection and spiritual growth. The new skills and perspectives you develop can help you not only with this present situation but are gifts that you can use in your lifetime.
- For major losses, such as losing a loved one, see section on grief.
For more thoughts on coping with disruptions and loss of “normalcy”, visit:
That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief