The current situation we are experiencing is demanding a drastic change in our lives. We cannot continue to live the way we are used to and are forced into changing the way we exercise, study, work, eat, and interact with each other.
Change is inevitable and it is continuous. It will always happen and is beyond our control. The world is in constant change and so are you, even if you are not aware of it. How we deal with change can determine whether we grow and evolve from it, or whether we force ourselves into the illusion of staying in the same ‘comfortable’ space.
‘It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent,
but the one most responsive to change’
– Charles Darwin
I believe it is not realistic to believe that we can stay the same and deny change. Your body is constantly changing. Your hormones, neurotransmitters, your energy, your wakefulness, experiences, circumstances, environment. Nothing remains the same and that is a good thing. Life is change.
The world has demanded us to change our daily routine big time. Most of us are required to stay indoors and limit social activity as much as possible. Our routines are all shaken up, and we are forced into rethinking our daily schedules, and maybe even our lives.
I have found it to be challenging sometimes not being able to meet up with friends or go to the University. I like movement, and sometimes I am finding it hard to stay in the same place the entire time. On the other hand I am lucky to enjoy spending alone time. Time to think about life and its meaning. Time to spend on myself and my own development.
When life changes so abruptly, we can experience a lot of stress. This can have a huge impact on us, which can be positive or negative (yes, experiencing stress can be positive as well). The way that we deal with change, the way we cope with it, can determine how we are influenced by it. I believe we are not always in control of our circumstances, however, we are always in control of the way we react to them.
Some people are capable of flourishing during times of change or stress. They somehow know what they need to do and how they need to do it. Others can have a hard time dealing with life changes or stressful moments. Some are sensitive and ready for life changes. They try various coping strategies to deal with the ever changing environment. Others can feel surprised and uncomfortable when changes occur and they tend to resist to try new ways of dealing with change.
A coping style is a set of behavioural and psychological characteristics. It is consistently used over time and across situations. Some of us can be more flexible, meaning that they can change their coping style more easily and adapt to the situation. Others can be more rigid and prefer to use the same coping style over and over again.
‘No matter what, people grow. If you choose not to grow, you’re staying in a small box with a small mindset. People who win go outside of that box. It’s very simple when you look at it’
– Kevin Hart
Problem-based coping is directed at the situation at hand. You might want to remove something from your life that is causing you stress. This type of coping can be used when the situation is perceived as controllable. If you feel like watching the news is causing you too much stress, you might switch it off.
Emotion-based coping is directed at the way that you feel. This type of coping is useful for when you cannot change the situation. For example if someone feels sad or alone during these times of quarantine, one might find it helpful to cope with these emotions. A person can call a family member or a friend in order to not feel lonely anymore.
Now there is also a third type referred to as dysfunctional coping. This refers to dealing with situation or feelings in a way that actually makes it worse. Coping styles such as avoiding a problem, staying in denial, blaming ourselves, or substance abuse can be more harmful than helpful. They might alleviate the problem in the short-term, however, in the long-term it will harm us more by adding more stress and negative affection to the problem.
We can have and make use of multiple coping styles. They can be seen as a combination of how we tend to look at life and personality characteristics. If a person has an internal locus of control, believing that he/she is responsible for a situation and being capable of changing it, it can stimulate that person to cope with a situation more effectively.
‘Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions’
– Tony Robbins
Let us say you have an internal locus of control and you tend to have an optimistic outlook on life, this will help you to deal with the current situation the whole world is in. You might think that staying in quarantine is not so bad because you have more time to read, study, and reflect on life. You might see it as a time to rewrite yourself or get to know yourself better. Even though you are limited in your social activities, it creates possibilities for growth. By closing one door, another door opens.
If you have an external locus of control, believing that you cannot influence your life and that external factors are determining how you feel and what you can do, you are probably having a hard time staying in quarantine. A person might think about all the limitations he or she currently has. They might believe that these limitations are responsible for how they feel and how they make use of their time. Hence, they cannot use their time effectively because it is out of their control, so they decide to lay on the couch the entire day.
I believe that it is a matter of mindset and perception. If we let ourselves believe that we have no control of how we feel and we cannot do anything but wait till it all blows over, than this is what your life is going to look like. However, if we believe that we can cope with the situation by searching for new opportunities to deal with change, we might benefit more from this than we think is currently possible.
If you have experienced this text to be helpful and insightful, please share it with others. Let us spread love and awareness together. Let me know what you think of this post in the comments below or send me an e-mail. I encourage you to share your experience or thoughts!
Cheng, et al. (2014). Coping flexibility and psychological adjustment to stressful life changes. Psychological Bulletin, 140(6), 1582-1607.
Cohen, S., & Hoberman, H. M. (1983). Positive events and social supports as buffers of life change stress. Journal of applied social psychology, 13(2).
Coppens, C. M., De Boer, S. F., & Koolhaas, J. M. (2010). Coping styles and behavioural flexibility: towards underlying mechanisms. Philosophical transactions of the royal society B. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0217
Johns, A. L., et al. (2009). Qualitative analysis of the role of culture in coping themes of Latina and European American mothers of children with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 26(3), 167-175.
Koolhaas, J. M., de Boer, S. F., & van Reenen, K. (2007). Individual variation in coping with stress: a multidimensional approach of ultimate and proximate mechanisms. Brain Behaviour and Evolution, 70, 218-226.