In life there are few things we can actually count on. One thing we can always count on is change. Change is an inevitable part of life. The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a sudden change that everyone around the world is dealing with. No one anticipated just how much this outbreak would impact our day to day functioning. Many of us are facing isolation or practicing social distancing in an effort to do our part to “flatten the curve”. These sudden changes are bound to impact everyone.   

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Coping With Sudden Change

In life there are few things we can actually count on. One thing we can always count on is change. Change is an inevitable part of life. The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a sudden change that everyone around the world is dealing with. No one anticipated just how much this outbreak would impact our day to day functioning. Many of us are facing isolation or practicing social distancing in an effort to do our part to “flatten the curve”. These sudden changes are bound to impact everyone.  This is due to how change actually impacts the brain. When we experience change the conflict sensors in our brain are activated which causes brian chaos that we call cognitive dissonance. Activation of the conflict sensor becomes stressful to people. Everyone reacts to their own brain chaos differently. The stress response you experience can be mental, physical, and/or emotional and could include some of the following symptoms: 

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Muscle tension and backaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased fear and worry
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Worsening of pre-existing mental health concerns
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

10 things you can do to help you cope with sudden change:

  1. Keep a regular schedule
    When we experience major change keeping some consistency helps relieve stress and keeps us connected to some normalcy.

  2. Exercise
    Be active, move your body. Exercise helps manage the hormones related to stress and also provides a boost of endorphins.

  3. Rest/Relax
    Adequate sleep is important. Rest can come in many other forms: journaling, watching a movie, playing a board game, colouring etc. Mix it up, have fun!

  4. Daily Check-ins
    Checking-in with yourself, how are you feeling? This applies to your physical and mental health, as well as checking in with loved ones.

  5. Create
    Give yourself something to do that occupies your mind and hands; make a nice dinner, craft, paint. Turn your unused energy into something productive instead of letting it turn inward and negative.

  6. Eat, Healthy
    In times of stress we often turn to comfort food and that's okay in moderation. Too much sugar or carbs can impact your mood and energy levels negatively. 

  7. Limit Social Media/News
    Constantly seeing information about COVID-19 or negative news can perpetuate overthinking, excessive worry, and further increase stress. 

  8. Reach Out/Seek Support
    No one can get through this alone, if you need to vent do it.Connect with  family/friends, join an online group. Reach out to one of the Olds Counsellors (counsellor@oldscollege.ca) for a telephone or video counselling session.

  9. Be Proactive
    Do what you can, stay in control of what you can. Make a plan for each day, wash your hands, respect social distancing. Take whatever steps you can to work preventatively to protect your physical and mental health.

  10. Stay Positive 
    For some this is the hardest one. Try to think of at least three positives each day. This will help give perspective, reduce catastrophizing, panic, and other forms of negative thinking that contribute to stress, anxiety, anxiety, and depression.