Crisis arrives with no warning
We are almost 8 months into the year 2020. No one could have anticipated the turn of events this year has brought to the world. COVID-19 has disrupted lives everywhere in the world, the magnitude of this devastation is enormous. The secondary and tertiary consequences of this crisis will unfold slowly over the next few months and years. What are some ways to cope during this time?
In a pervasive and tumultuous time such as this, mass panic is more dangerous than the primary crisis itself. Coping mechanisms vary based on individuals and their unique circumstances. We live in a world extremely biased towards action and peer pressure is at its heights. Here I outline 4 ways to cope during this crisis.
Most of us seldom take the trouble to think. It is a troublesome and fatiguing process and often leads to uncomfortable conclusions. Butcrises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.Jawaharlal Nehru – The Unity of India: Collected Writings, 1937-1940
Hibernation is a phenomenon in the natural world. Animals in cold climates suspend and regulate their metabolic activity for extended periods of time. They rest during the winter months and emerge back when winter ends to resume their lives. This is an act of conservation of energy. For these animals, it is a seasonal and annual occurrence.
This is a lesson we could learn from the natural world to cope during a crisis. When faced with a life disruption of such a magnitude, it is prudent to suspend critical activity at least temporarily. Let us take a pause, focus on the basics, and conserve energies. The objective of hibernation is to conserve energy and stretch it over a longer time. We do not have to literally burrow into the ground and disappear to do this. We can slow down, defer long-term life-impacting decisions, and focus on basic needs.
The key aspect here is to withstand peer pressure of taking action. Action for the sake of action drains energies without giving much in return. This is a good coping mechanism to reboot ourselves.
The increasing use of strategies and devices of convenience has made us efficient. However, it has also enormously added to the baseline of workload. In living bustling lives, we have removed scope for self-reflection in our normal routines. A crisis such as the current pandemic is a good opportunity to introspect.
We could step back, take a deep look at different aspects of our lives. Questioning ourselves whether our relationships, jobs, hobbies leave us with a sense of fulfilment. Making introspection a part of our current lives is a positive step. This coping mechanism will allow us to dig deeper into our own selves. Removed from the distractions of regular bustle, we have a wonderful opportunity to re-discover ourselves.
We need to remember that introspection is an exercise in self-awareness and development. No drastic actions are needed. Let us allow introspection to become part of our lives.
Generally grown ups who get used to a certain way of life are risk averse. We get defined by the steadiness of our life’s routine. Anything that strays away from that routine makes us unsettled. In times of crisis however, we can experiment. Because we have nothing to lose. Our steady routines have been destroyed by an external force beyond our control. To cope with this kind of change, experimentation is handy.
So, let us experiment in our lives. It can be small or big. Picking up a new hobby that we have been putting off for many years. Doing more housework now that we have limited movement outside the house. Finding new ways to engage with our families that we never gave a thought to before.
The beauty of experiments is that we never know what we may discover. There is a huge sense of liberation when we venture into an experiment with an open mind. When we start with low-key experiments, we develop an appetite for the process. We gain confidence to expand into bigger experiments as time progresses.
Children indulge in experimentation all the time. They try out new things without any external motivation. Children have no inhibitions to try new things. This practice is a well spring of creativity and creative living.
Crises are not always about destruction, devastation, and loss. These are inherent to a crisis certainly; every crisis also brings in enormous opportunity for growth. History tell us that times of enormous crises are inevitably followed by times of enormous growth. Any growth, however small, keeps us positive and moves us forward. Growth as a coping mechanism can bring in high levels of positivity into our lives.
Growth can manifest in different ways.
- Finding something new to learn and growing as an individual
- Figuring out new ways to connect with our family and growing as a family
- Exploring new ways to engage with our teams and growing as leaders
- Seeking opportunities to serve and contribute to our fellow humans and growing as a community
- Harnessing unprecedented opportunities and growing as a business
When our intention is to explore and not exploit an opportunity for devious reasons, growth is a fulfilling outcome. This kind of growth is also longer lasting.
Coping with crisis together
Even though we all are in the middle of the same storm, we all are in different boats. Our methods to steer our boats and stay afloat need to be our own. While we all cope in our ways, let us learn from others and cause no one any harm.
Stay curious. Stay safe.
Read more about this topic in our previous articles here and here. Please share your thoughts.
Featured image credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Dr. Soumya Sreehari
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