The fear of change is one of the most common fears that people face and the current coronavirus pandemic forces all of us to come to terms with many changes that we could not foresee and did not want in the first place. And most changes come with loss; loss of a job, loss of free movement, loss of social contact, loss of choices.
And change is difficult for everyone; there are few people that don’t feel somewhat anxious at the prospect of a major upheaval in their lives. The problem comes when fear of change keeps people paralyzed in situations that are not healthy or fulfilling, or when their fear of change isn’t confined to significant changes, but encompasses relatively minor, daily changes in routine.
Often the hardest changes to understand and adjust to are the ones that are unexpected and out of our control – a recession, a major disaster or a pandemic for example. Changes of this magnitude can be difficult to come to terms with, but you’ll often find that your experience of them can be made better or worse depending on your reaction and your attitude.
The most common reaction to a pandemic is hyper-vigilance – being over-cautious and wary about things, such as when a person coughs or is not wearing a mask. These feelings can be exacerbated by the fear of contamination. Some people may have trouble concentrating, making decisions, or feel sad, angry or overwhelmed. Others may experience physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches, and stomach aches, or have disrupted sleeping and eating patterns. These are all normal reactions, and over time, as life gets back to normal, these feelings usually decrease.
Often having information on how to deal with stressful situations can alleviate distressing feelings and allow us some sense of being in control. The following points are examples of coping mechanisms that are powerfully supporting our wellbeing and a sense of managing our own lives.
Some information you might find helpful are the following suggestions:
Acknowledge that things have changed
Denying change has happened is rendering us helpless which is making us more anxious than acknowledging the changes. Accepting change will allow us to look for solutions and this can be far less stressful than fighting or denying change.
Keep up your regular schedule as much as possible
The more change that is happening, the more important it is to stick to your regular schedule—as much as possible. Having some things that stay the same, like walking the dog, doing daily exercises or even household chores give us anchors throughout the day. Writing down our routine and ticking off items can give us a sense of achievement and satisfaction.
Try to eat as healthily as possible
When change happens, a lot of us tend to reach for carbs and this may be because eating carbs boosts serotonin which often is linked to feeling happy. Again, for some of us it might be a useful idea to write down what we eat and/or drink (e.g. alcohol units) as quite often these habits can sneak up on us when we are under stress. Keeping a food/drink diary also give us the opportunity to be mindful of eating healthily and enrich our daily intake with healthy options rather than eating on autopilot.
Keeping up regular exercise could be a part of the “keep up your regular schedule” tip. If exercise is not currently part of your routine, try adding it. Exercising outside in your garden or jogging/walking around the block can bust your immune system and help your cardio. Online exercise often supports our feeling of connectedness with others as well as allows us to develop physical wellbeing.
Stay in touch with family and friends
Using modern technology to connect with family and friends is invaluable in sharing our experience. Don’t forget, we are all in the same/similar positions, going through this difficult time.
Stay safe and connected.