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How to Handle Sudden Changes to Your Schedule

Seven ways to rise to the occasion during unforeseen circumstances and unexpected occurrences.

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Change can be upsetting, scary and stressful especially when it’s unplanned and sudden. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing changes in our daily routine as well as upcoming projects and scheduled arrangements. Long-awaited events and travel plans are postponed or cancelled, like concerts, weddings, graduations, conferences and even family reunions. What you once looked forward to, now seems out of reach. But the good news is, there are solutions and this too shall pass. 

Here are seven ways to deal with changes to your schedule, disruptions in your routine and the unpredictability facing our world as the consequences of the coronavirus unfold. 

1. Feel what you feel 

“The best way out is always through.” ― Robert Frost

Take time to feel any emotions that may arise after receiving news about changes that directly affect your life. It’s completely normal to feel upset, sad, irritated or even angry when something you’ve counted on, planned for or looked forward to feels out of reach. However, try not to act on these emotions and instead be intentional about your response.

2. Put things in perspective 

“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” ― John Lubbock

Objectively comparing your circumstances to those around you can be helpful in reducing stress and providing clarity. Of course, your feelings are valid, but remember that there is a difference between a cancelled trip meant for leisure and an inability to meet basic needs. 

3. Accept the change 

“Change is the only constant in life.” ― Heraclitus

Dwelling on the fact that things aren’t going as planned will only increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Actively detaching from expectations and accepting the reality of the situation will help you to move forward from it. Once you’ve accepted your current circumstance, start taking action. 

4. Practice adaptive coping

“It’s your reaction to adversity, not adversity itself that determines how your life’s story will develop.” ― Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Although it’s important to embrace your feelings and accept changes, it’s equally important to be mindful of your reactions and how you cope with setbacks. Adaptive coping strategies such as exercise, meditation, seeking social support, journaling and humor can mitigate negative feelings during times of uncertainty. Practicing adaptive coping is a great way to boost resilience.

5. Develop a plan 

“The only cure for grief is action.” ―   George Henry Lewes

It may feel impossible to plan for anything during this time but there are actions you can take to manage changes to your schedule. Start by identifying your priorities, outlining tasks, trying to reschedule postponed events or meetings, making necessary calls, creating deadlines and preparing yourself for future changes.

6. Find new opportunities 

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”  Napoleon Hill

Just because one door is closed (for now) doesn’t mean others aren’t open. Now is the perfect time to seek new opportunities and get creative about your life plans. Pay attention to current trends and think about how you can add value. Your work is important and if you seek opportunities to make a positive impact, they will appear. 

7. Prioritize your health 

“He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.”  Arabian proverb

Cancelled plans and postponed events can be frustrating, but what’s most important is your health. Stress can weaken your immune system, so it’s best to focus on things you can control. Eat healthy, drink lots of water, exercise for 30 minutes at home and get some sleep!

Dealing with the unexpected is a part of life. We often can’t control how things happen, but we can control our responses and the amount of compassion and understanding we bring to any situation. How we respond to events such as COVID-19, often defines us as individuals, communities and nations. Even though plans, routines and expectations have changed for everyone across the globe, it is still possible to positively adapt and overcome. 

Remember:  “Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems.” ― Gever Tulley

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