When a crisis occurs, what follows can be mapped in three distinct stages:
- Response stage
- Adaptation stage
- Reintegration stage
The lockdown is teaching us all something rare and potentially powerful. While you haven’t signed up for this learning, this is what is happening and you have a choice to either grit your teeth and endure it or turning this stage of the lockdown into your personal masterclass of building stamina and patience.
The Response stage is basically where we get that adrenaline hit and react to what’s happening (usually) with an ‘all hands on deck’ response. This stage is about rapid response, problem solving issues, fire fighting and putting in place strategies and interventions that reduce the risk of things getting worse, like social distancing, home schooling and organising volunteer groups to support the most vulnerable.
We talked about the Response stage in our previous blog post – What am I making it mean? We looked at how our mindset and how we act at the moment will ultimately define how we get through this crisis. And whether we gain anything constructive or helpful from the whole experience.
We now have these mechanisms and interventions in place. Some are working well, others need some refinement or changing but by and large we are now becoming familiar with brand new activities. For example, doing PE with Joe Wicks in the mornings, figuring out how to use Zoom and we are standing in our doorways on Thursday evenings to honour and treasure those on the frontlines by clapping for our carers. This means that we are now through the Response stage and have landed squarely in the Adaption stage.
Today’s post focusses on the Adaptation stage, specifically how you can get through it in the most helpful way possible by building stamina and learning to be more patient.
The Adaptation stage
The Adaptation stage is when we become more adapted to the changes brought about by the crisis. By its very nature the Adaptation stage is like the middle part of a movie. You know, the bit where the main protagonist focusses on building the skills to bring the film to its successful conclusion. Think of Rocky when he’s trains relentlessly to become as strong and fit as possible. This is about showing up each day for training and giving it what you’ve got. This stage is about putting in the work and staying the course.
This is your training ground and the time to build two key skills that this stage requires of you to get through to the Reintegration stage: stamina and patience.
This is the stage when you may be feeling weary and tired by the demands of the Response stage, the adrenaline is coming down and not giving you that boost to power through and he coronavirus pandemic has impacted your lives in multiple ways. This includes the loss a number of privileges that you have taken for granted. The physical and psychological impact of this is heavy, especially as it looks like we’re going to be at this stage for a while.
Coming to terms with lockdown losses and gains
The bottom line is we cannot be emotional all the time. It’s too much and hinders our ability to function on a daily basis. But if you suppress your emotions for too long, you risk them building up, which isn’t a helpful situation to be in either.
It’s important to be mindful of gains and respectful of losses brought about by the lockdown. This helps provide some much-needed perspective at a time when we might be struggling to see the current situation as anything other than unhelpful.While the current adapted reality might seem all doom and gloom, you will (believe it or not) have realised a number of gains as a result.
Now it’s okay to feel grief over the loss of something you took for granted. Even though it may not be at the same level as bereavement (and some of us have that to deal with as well), looking after that feeling of grief will ensure you don’t get stuck in it.
While many people will be struggling with for aspects of lockdown like less than usual contact with friends and family and changes to income, consider the gains.
If you’re able to work from home, you’re not having to commute each day, saving you not only time but also the drain and stress that can come with that. Then there’s the better work-life balance you’ll hopefully be experiencing at the moment. There’s also a good chance you’re having more contact with some friends and loved ones via online video calling platforms than you would ordinarily.
For example, a friend of mine, Sarah, is actually interacting more with her grandparents than ever before – albeit via video link. So while many of our social contact circles are smaller, we are keeping in contact with those closest to us even more.
So beware of only focusing on either all the good things or all the bad things and experiment with seeing the whole spectrum of your experience, recognising the impact of the losses and appreciating the gains too.
Harnessing the Adaptation stage
There are two key skills to develop during the Adaptation stage to help you get through it in the most helpful way possible: stamina and patience.
It’s important to understand that your stamina is going to be tested during the Adaptation stage, which is why you need to be building it as much as possible by focussing on two core aspects: structure and practice.
Structure supports strength and with little or no structure to your day, chances are you will start to feel the impact of the Adaptation stage on your health – whether that’s your physical, mental or social health.
In the Facebook post I highlight the importance of paying attention to stressors and trying to avoid stressful situations as much as possible. There’s also a focus on how segmenting your day can really help, plus the importance of exercise and a varied, healthy diet. If you find it helpful, please consider liking our page so that you will see more of our updates going forward.
As with most things in life, when it comes to building strength and stamina, practice makes perfect. You don’t learn to swim by watching a documentary, you get in a pool and practice (safely). By sticking to your daily structure you are practising your strength building activities. It’s all about marginal gains (more about marginal gains in this blog) and ensuring you stick to your regime as much as possible (and when helpful). At the end of the day, it’s perseverance and determination that make the difference, which is why sticking to your structure and practising helps to build your stamina.
Two of the biggest psychological challenges that we have as humans are feeling trapped and uncertainty (as discussed in our previous blog post here). With Covid19, we’ve got both going on and so as you’re adjusting to the Adaptation stage you may notice that you may be prone to feeling more impatient and frustrated at times as well as feeling powerless and that this is never going to end.
The Adaptation stage is a masterclass in practising patience and now when it’s happening on a global scale that’s further enhanced. Being kind to both yourself and anyone who may be around you can go a long way. Even talking about it as a shared experience can alleviate some of the intensity of the frustration, despite the fact the external reality hasn’t changed in terms of the lockdown.
A key component to developing patience is becoming more skilled at responding to feelings like frustration, impatience and feeling helpless which are some of common feelings associated with the Adaptation stage.
To help with your practice, consider checking out the 10-day First Aid for Feelings course I developed, which is available on the Insight Timer app. While it’s not COVID-19 specific, it’s about learning how to apply your own First Aid to your feelings and thus develop skills like patience. You can listen to the course intro here
If it seems like something you’d like to take advantage of, you can do so in a couple of ways:
1. https://insig.ht/3qizULiPL5 -This is for users who wish to purchase an Insight Timer subscription and access all courses
2. https://insighttimer.com/meditation-courses/course_thor-a-course-form – This is for listeners who wish to purchase the course for individual sale ($20) via the website. Day 1 is free so listeners will need to Start Day 2 before being prompted to purchase. Note: the course can be listened to on the web or app after purchase.
Over to you…
My invitation to you now is to have a think about the gains / benefits of having more stamina and being more patient. How could it benefit you in other areas of your life, such as relationships, work, or anything for that matter? By learning and practising to become more patient, you will be able to better accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry or upset – something that will have a positive impact for you on a daily basis. By strengthening your stamina you’ll be more able to see things through, take on the challenges that will enable you to achieve what’s important to you and trust that you can hold steady, even in stormy weather.
If this resonates with you make the commitment to yourself to see the Adaptation stage as your masterclass with structure and practice to increase your stamina and patience. Hey, you can even make the Rocky song Gonna Fly Now your theme tune as you show up each day, making it count.
When we move towards the end of the Adaptation stage, we’ll be looking at the third and final phase of what’s going on: the Reintegration stage. Be sure to ‘like’ our Facebook page so you get alerted when that blog is published.
Until next time, go gently with yourself and hold steady.
All the best, Thor
Head up – Heart open – Hands clean