Coping With Extreme Changes

CSU student studying in a cafe in Wagga Wagga.

This blog is based on information from a book by psychologist and environment scientist, Bob Doppelt and a Deakin University article by psychologist, Dr. Carmel Sivaratnam.

In times of global stress, whether it be caused by COVID-19 or climate change, it is important to have a mental pathway or route to follow and stay focused on the positives.

Without this established direction our mental state could be subject to instability and negativity. Here is a basic guide to creating that pathway for your wellbeing.

  1. Accept the change: the first step is to accept that the change is real and more than likely out of your control. Accepting what you can and cannot control is important, try not to waste your energy and time worrying about something that is going to happen regardless of your actions. That way you can focus on the things that you can control, the effects of the change perhaps. 
  2. Ground yourself: collect yourself, look at the things that aren’t changing and establish ‘a rock’ that you can turn to when you feel anxious. This can be something unchangeable, love for your parents, your aspirations, your spirituality.
  3. Connect with others experiencing similar changes: you can help yourself and help others by reaching out and just talking about the changes that you are going through. 
  4. Compare and contrast: weigh up the true effect of the change on things that mean a lot to you. Will it make a difference in the long term or just the short term? Will it change the things that are really important? 
  5. Positives: instead of focusing on the bad things that this change will bring, focus on the good things! Rather than dwelling on the past and what you enjoyed about it, think about the future and what new enjoyments you might find. Like Socrates says, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but building the new.” 
  6. Support: identify your support system and don’t be afraid to rely on them for support. Links to Covid-19 mental health help and general psychological wellbeing support lines: https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19

Whenever I feel overwhelmed by certain changes I like to think of all the good changes that have happened in the world, such as women’s rights, education for all and democracy. Without those changes we wouldn’t have the world we have today. Nothing worthwhile ever happened when people stayed in their comfort zones!