Hold on tight!
How knowledge of change management theory can help you understand your feelings during Covid-19
We haven't quite managed to get up for 9am yet to exercise with the rest of the nation and Joe Wicks.
We haven't quite managed to crack home schooling, bake banana bread, learn a new language, complete yoga or even managed to confirm those infamous delivery slots!
In fact none of us have cracked being awake, showered, dressed, fed, happy, sad, occupied, not occupied all at the same time since this began.
What we have managed to do as a family is to take seat on a rollercoaster none of us wanted to get on (height restrictions were waivered, so even the smallest one was included)
It is the second week of self isolation for us with a week of conscious social distancing the week before. New terms in our vocabulary. Words all of us use and have become familiar with, just dropping them into conversation as if they have always been there.
"Into the Unknown" (thanks Frozen 2!)
This enforced change is good bad and ugly all at the same time! On that rollercoaster some of us are just gripping on tight, some of us are screaming, some are silently scared and others are sitting there holding their anxious breath praying it will end soon with our health (and sanity) intact.
Trying to rationalise it as a fully paid up member of adult hood is a challenging. If like me you like to be in control, plan ahead and so all of a sudden the unknown…… outside of any control is a pretty scary place to be.
Speaking to friends and family we are all experiencing different levels of feelings and fear. It seems a situation like this not only shifts the practical elements of how you deal with change but it also seems to play into your hidden insecurities…. claustrophobia, loneliness, frustration, fear of germs, health sensitivities, anxiety, excessive hand washing, paranoia you have it ….or going to pass it on to others or you are asymptomatic (another word added to our daily vocabulary)
Coping with change
I am sure many of you have heard of the change curve, which is attributed to Kubler-Ross. Originally developed by their work with terminally ill patients they identified various stages that we go through when faced with grief. It has since been attributed to change and so can be useful for understanding the major shift we are all experiencing.
Shock, Denial, Frustration and Depression are early emotions we have all felt here. I would add also confusion and fear (in buckets full for the little ones). This shift wasn’t predicted and whilst there was some planning that could take place for it, the situation feels pretty alien to us. Clarity and empathy are key here, to help you through. A useful reminder, especially with the frustrations of a house now full.
The model isn’t perfect. I am sure we are not alone in that our rollercoaster is taking us forward and back between some of the emotions, in fact its fair to say we probably experience most of the change curve even before lunch time. So our roller coaster isn’t as linear as what Kubler-Ross proposed.
Finding our way through
Its taken a while to get this (and there have been many tears & fights) but its important to acknowledge how you are feeling, whatever that emotion is and just go with it. It may stay for a while, it may change within the next 10 minutes….. but just go with it. Same too for the rest of your household. We are all having a different experience here and so we need to show care and support. Hard I know as many of us are now together 24/7. This is particularly important if you or others are at the shock stage
Arm yourself with the facts, particularly if you are at the shock and denial stage. I have removed myself from the regular social media visits. Hard when that is your picture of the outside world. But since I have been only updating myself once a day with a ‘credible’ source I feel less panicked and anxious and informed.
We are experiencing low mood here at various stages and for various lengths of time. You could argue this is the most difficult stage to shift. There is a silent flag in our house that shows when someone feels like this….'can I have a duvet day?' (though you could argue every day could be that now?!) . It’s a subconscious language we use when we are feeling low without actually saying or understanding it. So we either try to coax each other out of it (get dressed/eat/do something together) or actually just go with it, its not perfect but none of us have extra energy to try and push others to be ‘happy’. Im choosing something every day that is for me and makes me happy (I’ve planted some seeds, sat in front of the fire and read a magazine, gone for a walk round the block, not fought battles with my children about screen time! Fairly simple things but important. ) This is useful if you need some extra motivation if you are feeling low. Look after yourself.
We do at least manage a walk round the garden each day, more if we feel stronger. Fresh air and getting moving does help however it feels cold out there the last few days so is more of a struggle to get going, but feel better after we have.
Gosh I have become absolutely obsessive about food? (back to shock stage?) Anyone else? Constantly thinking Have we enough? How will I get a delivery slot? What will we have for our next meal? What time should we eat? We have food, we are safe & healthy here but I was up at 4am the other morning trying to get a delivery slot! (see I mentioned that this is playing into our insecurities…something about my need for control I suspect….) Either way we are managing to eat healthy…well some of us…some of the crew are less willing….but we sit down together and some eat….some push the food around their plate…some finally give in…some don’t and pace the cupboards for alternatives…either way we have food, we are well and we are together safe.
Those are the basics for us…anything on top of that is a bonus at the moment!
Slow & Steady....
We are making slow progress though. Some do their school work (one of them managed a whole hour the other day! Experiment stage)………. other days that’s not happening! (back to Frustration) Sometimes our internet cant cope, sometimes I miss the drive to school where we are all singing to Heart Fm before we split for the day...and sometimes I have forgotten what its like to stand next to my friends and chat and laugh and hug….so its going to take time to get used to this 'new normal'.
I am ever hopeful that we will manage to make it through to Integration stage.....maybe we will have one of those Instagram perfect days that starts off with Joe Wicks and ends with us all in matching pyjamas, eating banana bread and speaking in Swahili?!!!!! Realistically integration stage will be us all awake, showered, dressed, fed, happy & occupied all at the same time since this began!
"Go easy on yourself…….This is new……it is an unknown….and ultimately it will pass…this isn’t a permanent state."
In later life Kubler-Ross acknowledged that there was a strand of emotion that ran through the whole of the curve that they hadn’t included on the original version. That was Hope.....that in the end no matter what our experience Hope would lead us to the end.....and that hope would give some meaning to what we have learned from our experience.
I know that if we keep holding onto this roller coaster ride, all together, we will be able to take a big collective non-social distancing sigh of relief at the end!
I would love to know your experiences and to know if this article helped.
For further details of how finding-balance can help at this time get intouch with Davina via any of the social media channels @finding-balance