3 Ways to Be More Adaptable During Difficult Times
April 27, 2020
As a scientist researching human adaptability, these unprecedented times provide the most extraordinary opportunities for learning.
I grew up with intense bouts of anxiety and depression, and I would never have considered myself a poster child for learning how to adapt. But what I see clearly now is that it is exactly this path, and my willingness to stay curious along the way, that has helped me develop the adaptability skill sets necessary to thrive in the midst of challenging circumstances.
The tools and techniques I use on a daily basis to stay focused and flexible feel like superpower assets in a world twisted upside down.
What is adaptability?
Adaptability is an adjusted state of being. When someone is adaptable, they are able to grow as a result of challenging circumstances.
In times like these where we face daily uncertainty and elevated levels of stress, discomfort, and disorder, we need to reframe how we look at challenges. Each challenge is an opportunity to evolve and grow.
By taking steps to be more open and flexible, you will retrain your brain and your body to be more adaptable.
The following mindset makeovers reflect new ways of thinking and doing business—specific pivots you can make to better navigate the world’s new normal.
3 strategies to adapt in challenging times
#1 Get to know your relationship with stress
Ultimately, our experiences with stress are based on the relationship we have with the circumstances of our lives. This is based on our actual demand/capacity ratio in any given moment, plus the lens through which we see it.
When we are able to stop, assess the situation, appreciate that our stress reactions are trying to help us and only hurt us when they linger for too long, we can then be strategic about the specific adjustments we can make to shift our stress in better directions. This allows us to quickly close the gap between stimulus and response. Utilizing our whole brain processes to make better decisions and navigate stress more effectively over time.
#2 Learn to rest as if it’s a new skill
As we shelter-in-place during the pandemic, we can take time for a much-needed chance for rest, recovery, and restoration.
We used to see pushing through as something to be admired, even when it created more problems as a result. But working when you’re sick is not a sign of drive. When you are not fully energized and engaged, your personal and organizational health and performance suffer.
No longer can we put health and wellness low on the priority list or nice-to-have perks for employees. Your physical, mental, and emotional health are all business-relevant.
Recognize that how you eat, move, sleep, rest, and connect impacts your ability to show up as your best self. Make rest and self-care a part of your business-essential activities. And put measures in place to make personal and collective recharge time a priority.
#3 Commit to spreading positivity
I’ve always said that stress and negativity are often contagious. The same goes for love, gratitude, kindness, and compassion. Positivity can spread through a text, an email, or a passing glance.
As the fabulous neuroscientist Jill Bolte Taylor shares in her book “My Stroke of Insight,” we must be responsible for the energy we bring into the space we share with others.
The more you notice and experience every micro expression of positivity towards yourself and others, the more you can see possibilities for growth in even the most difficult circumstances. Simply by shifting your focus to what’s good in life, you can create a more flexible, and adaptable state of being.