The Coronavorus or COVID-19 has changed our “normal”. Can’t seem to stop watching the TV news to catch the latest information because things are changing daily? Does the uncertainty and change of it all have you feeling stressed? Do you find yourself jumping to conclusions and bemoaning the future? Emotions are running high because this virus IS a matter of life and death. Even if you normally feel pretty positive you may be reeling on the emotional roller coaster and wondering where your positive side has gone. This model has helped me deal with the uncertainty and my usually positive disposition and outlook on life. I hope this will help you as well.
Last month I taught a class about change management on an individual, team, and organizational level. The participants were struck by the Kubler-Ross model because they were going through an organizational change and some of their team members were stuck in the frustration stage. They realized by looking at this model that things may get worse before they get better because there was still the depression stage.
When I was taking psychology classes in college in the early 80s, I learned about 5 stages of grief model developed in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kugler-Ross. Besides illustrating the grieving process of death and dying this curve could also me used for many changes. It became a model for organizational management. The idea is that when things change, the old thing “dies” and we begin to experiment with the new until we integrate it into our life. This model helps me deal with the way that I have been feeling since March 2020 and I hope it can help you too.
Usually, I am very positive and I have a terrific work ethic. Mid-March all of my face-to-face classes were cancelled or postponed because of the virus concerns. I decided that I would work on my curriculum for upcoming classes, however, I could not focus or concentrate. At first, I thought I had writer’s block but then I realized after a few days that I was quite depressed. I was sleeping more than usual; I didn’t feel like working. When I went to Facebook, I saw pretty pictures and inspirational sayings. Usually, I love that kind of thing. Now, it just made me realize that I was a bit of a negative Nelly. I was feeling sorry for myself and grieving my work and my job. It seemed like I could not get out of my funk. I should be helping people get out of their funk and work on their goals. This is what I do for a living but, I didn’t seem to have a “living” since my work was stopped. I was in a bad place.
“Meet you at the corner in 15 minutes” my friend, Beth texted to me Friday morning. When I lived in Virginia, she would text me those messages and we would walk around the lake in the neighborhood. We would walk and talk for 3 or 4 miles and feel so much better afterward. So, I we decided to do this now. I live in Florida and she still lives in Virginia. I put on my sneakers, sunglasses and hat and grabbed my phone. Beth walked around the VA neighborhood and I walked around my Florida neighborhood. We talked and talked. She is a dental hygienist who has worked for the same dentist for over 20 years. She was out of work as well. Before we knew it we had walked 3.5 miles and were all talked out. I realized that there are so many people in my same situation and I got some exercise.
That hour changed my outlook and my mindset. We talked about feeling shocked, in denial, frustrated, and depressed. After our walk, I pulled up the change curve model and realized that what we are going through is normal. Yes. This it is normal to go through this grieving process of losing our jobs temporarily. Later that day, I spoke to my business coach, Sheri Kaye Hoff, and she told me that she realized that people are taking about 2 weeks or so to realize that this is happening. Yep, it had taken about 2 weeks for me. Maybe I am on the other side of depression, but the model says we can go back and forth in the stages. I am prepared for my emotions to take that roller coaster ride now that I realized it is normal.
These are tough times, I hope that my thoughts can help you navigate your changes. Let me know what you are doing to help your physical and mental health.