How to Cope in Precedented Times, 0621 COBJ, Vol. 50, No. 6 Pg. 12

PositionVol. 50, 6 [Page 12]

How to Cope in Precedented Times

Becoming a Master of Adaptation

No. Vol. 50, No. 6 [Page 12]

Colorado Lawyer

June, 2021



"How you gonna ever find your place... Runnin' at an artificial pace?"

—Gin Blossoms

It's amazing how quickly phrases like "unprecedented times," "new normal," and "reentry" have become imprinted in our psyches. Just hearing them can trigger feelings of exhaustion, apathy, confusion, and unease. But behind these buzz words are some simple lessons: (1) change is the only certainty in life; (2)wemustnot take anything or anyone for granted; and (3) we're more resilient, adaptable, and flexible than we thought.

Understanding Our Coping Mechanisms

Clinical and neurological researchers have been telling us for years how stressful sudden and unexpected changes in our environment, routine, and sense of safety can be, and we now have the personal experiential data to back that up. But while we're all experiencing the same pandemic, the stress of pandemic living has affected us in individual ways. Some of us may be struggling with relationships and communication. Others may be dealing with mental health issues (anxiety, panic attacks, depression, etc.) or struggling with basic self-care (finding it difficult to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, or clean the house). We may be self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and other processes (gambling, eating, internet, etc.), or taking our emotions out on others (treating them with less civility, professionalism, and basic common courtesy). If you identify with all ormost of these coping mechanisms, you're not alone.

And yet, we are coping, and we are figuring it out. Yes, every day there is some sort of crisis, either in our personal lives, at work, or in the news, and some of us have become jaded and numb by the atrocities we are seeing and hearing about. We have experienced grief, loss, isolation, despair, and true fear on a regular basis. But do not forget that hope, compassion, love, humor, innovation, and a sense of community and support are also experienced on a regular basis and are fueling our collective drive to improve our responses to this pandemic and its aftermath.

How Humans React and Adapt to Change

We have gone through one of the most extreme shifts in daily life that the developed world has seen in recent generations, and the threat of change continues every day on both macro and micro levels. Thankfully, when the "unprecedented" becomes "precedented," or, better said, when change becomes the accepted norm, humans adapt. Granted, adaptation is not always a pleasant experience. Our minds rebel against change, and our nervous systems go into high alert, creating anxiety about every detail—how long will we...

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