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  • Kat Hounsell

COVID-19 series: - Our human response to change

This article was originally written for The Drinks Trust as part of their COVID-19 updates. If you haven't heard of this wonderful charity then do pay their website a visit and see how you can support, or be supported, as a member of the drinks and hospitality industry.

Every one of us is going through change.

As human beings, change is a constant within our lives. We experience it throughout our careers, in our social lives, our family dynamics, our well-being, even our looks as we age! So why does the change we’re experiencing at the moment feel SO big? The global spread of COVID-19 has brought with it a wave of experiences us humans tend to dislike… uncertainty, complexity, feeling out of control, and speedy transitions. We are innately tribal beings so ‘social distancing’ isn’t written into our DNA either. And then throw on top of that financial concerns.

Each of these on its own can make us feel on edge; but combined together the fear heightens. When the change we face looks big, strong human emotional responses often follow.

Take a look at the transitions curve below.

It maps very closely to how we might grieve a loved one. That’s because what we’re doing is saying goodbye to an old normal and hello to a new one. As time passes (the X axis) we can see our self-esteem waver (the Y axis) as we move through different phases. Where would you place yourself today?

The likelihood is you may need multiple curves!

Perhaps in work you’ve fast-tracked over to the right-hand side – change brings out the best in you, and you are thriving as part of a remote team with new challenges to conquer! But then perhaps you also find you’re working all hours to avoid some of the difficult emotions associated with concern for your family’s future… you’re still in denial.

Wherever you are, it’s ok, it’s human. And the most important thing is to be kind to yourself when it comes to your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviours.

Really normal coping strategies include:

  • Looking to others for approval

  • Striving to get things perfect and all sorted out

  • Controlling our world (and people!) around us

  • Getting easily offended when the approval isn’t there, or we don’t achieve what we wanted

  • Avoidance of situations / our thoughts / our feelings (another drink anyone?!)

  • Over-dependence on others and not thinking for ourselves

  • Unhealthy competition included comparison with others

  • Sarcastic comments and humour to make us look bigger, or others look smaller

I’m going to reiterate that all the above are completely normal coping strategies. When faced with change of the current scale we are presented with an opportunity to learn more about ourselves, our resilience levels, and whether we have the right helpful coping strategies in place. Over the coming weeks I’ll be sharing practical ways you can navigate this period of transition by charging up your personal 'Triple A battery', using:

  1. Awareness – noticing where you’re at

  2. Acceptance – even the hard stuff

  3. Action – the helpful everyday strategies for holistic wellbeing

Today, take 5-minutes to STOP and re-energise.


Take a deep breath.

Observe what’s going on for you – was there anything you read here that particularly caught your attention? Remember, be kind to yourself!

Proceed with purpose – do something you enjoy.

Finding life difficult? You’re #NotAlone. Read here for where to access professional support.

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