Adapting to Change: a Sign of Resiliency
With the upheaval of the pandemic, most of us, if not all of us, have found ourselves having to consider changes to our routines, changes to employment, living conditions, social engagement, and changes in our own mental health and wellness. With the pandemic being the most recent major transition most of us have faced, it brings to mind other life changes and transitions we have encountered over the years, and the processes of adaptation and survival, we have utilized to get through them. While sometimes, change is sought out, there are times change is forced upon us; change that we can choose to fight, or choose to adapt to. Change, when not sought after, can be extremely distressing, and a challenge to come to come to terms with.
Adaptability is seen as a key source of mental wellness (Mi & Weipeng, 2016). The ability to adapt is seen as a form of self-regulation, supporting mental wellness (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). Adapting to change is a process that we all go through as we transition between phases of our life; even done gently, and in a timely manner, transitions and transitory periods feel unstable, unsafe and chaotic. Forced upon us, transitions, and adaptation to a new way of being, a "new normal" can feel intrusive, challenging and extremely anxiety provoking. The diagram below provides a picture of the typical stages an individual may go through as they transition from one phase to another.
J.M. Fisher, 1999, 2012
Understanding the processes, the emotions, and the thoughts that may come up for you when moving through changes and transitions, is the first step to developing better coping methods, and a viewing change as a form of resilience. Resilience is seen as the process of adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, and significant stress (APA.org). The awareness that you are not alone in feeling these emotions, in struggling with these challenges, can help normalize some of the stages of change. Ultimately, understanding that we all go through changes in our lives, and we are a product of these experiences, moving forward and growing; the awareness that as we change and grow, we leave behind the old, and incorporate the new, as a means to adapting to the changing environment we live in, builds on our strengths, and creates a a resilience within us! Helping us become #survivors #changemakers. How to build resilience? Do not isolate: build a network of support, connect with others, join a group. Self-care: take care of your body, and mind. Find purpose: work together with others towards a goal, advocate for your rights and rights of others, contribute to your community. Create structure: work through the chaos of change and create a routine that works for you in the here and now, that provides scaffolding for the changes to come.