#Askingforafriend: The perils of unexpected change

By Mike Wallace
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

“There is nothing as constant as change,” my mother would always say. It is not what happens to us, it is our reactions, attitudes and perceptions of events that can affect our mental health the most.

Pending change is one thing, but unexpected change – the sudden death of a loved one, unexpectedly losing your job, a breakup with a significant other that comes out of left field, etc. – can leave us hurt, frustrated, confused and very disoriented.

Consider the recent events with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak: social events canceled, churches not even congregating, schools shutting down. It can be traumatic to adjust quickly and reorient.

When we are exposed to this kind of trauma, we have different emotional responses. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance has a lot to say about this subject. Symptoms can include:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Irritability
  • Isolation
  • Strain in relationships
  • Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, loss of energy, and aches and pains
  • Changes in eating and sleeping
  • Abrupt changes in mood

Although these symptoms may be daunting, there are many ways we can care for ourselves. These include:

  • Talk to friends about your feelings, asking them to just listen or offer advice
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible
  • Stay physically active
  • Spend time enjoying life-affirming activities
  • Seek professional help if needed

When faced with the uncertainty of current events, remember to take things one day at a time and keep self-talk realistically positive. Look for opportunities to help each other out as circumstances unfold.

I have a lot of empathy for those students who have had to readjust their lives abruptly, but I also have a lot of confidence in them – their generation already has had to deal with a lot of change. They are well-informed, curious and can develop the resilience needed to overcome this temporary hiatus.

In his book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” William Bridges wrote that change is necessary for growth and that it involves three stages:

  • Separating from the old
  • Taking care of yourself in the limbo stage
  • Embracing the new phase as you move on in life

May we all give each other grace, patience and encouragement along with a curiosity to take advantage of new opportunities that never could have happened without this inconvenience.

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Bible Verse

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/