Where are you emotionally with the coronavirus lockdown?
Reassuring isn’t it…
- When you see ‘you are here’ on a map.
- When you’re on the train and the announcement confirms it’s going to your station.
- When you have a delivery date and time for your order.
We like knowing where we stand but, with the coronavirus lockdown, so much is unknown.
Although this is the first of its kind for us, we do have experience of other changes, and ventures into unknown territory, and how this impacts us emotionally.
The Kubler-Ross Change Curve identifies the emotional path from shock and denial through frustration, depression and experimentation to decision and integration. This was developed by Elisabeth Kubler Ross in 1969 in relation to death and bereavement but it has been applied to other life changes such as redundancy.
Psychologists are quick to point out that the different emotional states may not be experienced in order, there may be day to day variety and some circling back but this describes a general movement through from resistance to acceptance.
When we’re in the midst of strong emotions we can start to question if there is something fundamentally wrong with us and whether we will ever feel ‘better’. It’s helpful to have an outline of the stages so we can recognise this is a natural human response to loss and change.
To keep things simple, let’s summarise the model into stages:
1. Shock and denial
We might feel numb, in a daze, foggy. We say to ourselves ‘this can’t be happening’ and we can’t think straight. We seem distracted and this can make us accident-prone and forgetful.
For a while we might try and pretend all is usual but, over time we come to accept the truth of the new situation and this takes us into the next stage.
2. Uncomfortable emotions
We experience a whole cocktail of challenging emotions; fear, sadness, anger and frustration. Our emotions are uncomfortable and varied as we attempt to make sense of, and come to terms with, our new situation.
Our moods can change very quickly and our awareness of exactly what we’re feeling varies. When we are in one state, we might feel as if we have felt this way ‘forever’ but, of course, this is not the case. In the midst of these sometimes 'messy' emotions we catch glimpses of hope and love, and over time these feelings increase.
We know we are coming out of the ‘uncomfortable’ phase when we start having creative ideas about what we can do, our mind clears and we feel more resourceful and inspired. We will still feel fear, anger and sadness from time to time but they no longer dominate our experience.
Can you see the presence of these three stages in our lockdown situation? Perhaps there are multiple responses as we experience different challenges?
Treating ourselves with kindness and taking great care is important at all times but especially in the first two stages when we probably won’t see that as our priority. If we have a regular healthy or spiritual practice, it is great to maintain this as much as we can.
If we are caring for others we can help recognise these stages and ‘walk with them’ as they go through the different emotional states.
We know that connection is important to all of us and finding ways to share our experiences, hopes and fears, helps us to keep our thoughts in perspective. It might seem like this is impossible remotely but look again; so much is possible with today's technology.
We are unlikely to feel inspired to take on a new project until the third stage but playing with creative ideas can really help us to move through the second phase. Keeping a journal and looking for ways to help and serve others can also help us to find inspiration.
There are strong parallels between this process and a butterfly emerging. We will be changed by this time, in ways we probably can not yet imagine. Our next question is then, how we can make the most of all this creative energy in our life and work.
If you would like help in defining your answer to this question, or if you are wondering what changes you might make when the lockdown is over then speaking to a life coach could be a beneficial next step.
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