Adaptability is the ability to change, or be changed, to better fit altered or unexpected circumstances as humans tend to be creatures of habit (Mill, 2015). Every one of us has the basic capability to be adaptable as without this being somewhat ‘hard-wired’ in us, we would struggle to function in this ever-changing world (Prince, 2020). It is a basic survival skill – the ability to adapt smarter and faster than any current situation is what has allowed us to flourish and consistently make progress through the ages (Prince, 2020). This is not the world’s first pandemic – and it probably won’t be the last.
Focusing your energy
How do we best adapt when everything around is uncertain and changes rapidly day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour?
The best approach would be understanding where to place your energy. When we are distressed or upset, especially when we feel out of control, all our energy typically will be focused on the things we cannot control. It is suggested that, currently, people are feeling isolated, and this may cause them to become scared and anxious. This is also due to us not having a point of reference for dealing with this kind of crisis – this automatically feeds into the fear part of our brains because so much is unknown (Prince, 2020).
With the spread of the coronavirus, we have absolutely no control over many variables – what we can control, however, is how we’re going to navigate through them (Prince, 2020). Although it is healthy to identify the negatives of the current situation, people can find a sense of satisfaction in regaining control of how they perceive their situations. This is the power of reframing one’s narrative. It is therefore encouraged that individuals view this crisis as an opportunity to refocus on mental health and the health of your relationships with those around you (Prince, 2020).
Being willing and able to adapt your behaviour increases your ability to communicate and build relationships with the people around you (Alessandra, 2016).
Furthermore, versatility is your ability to adapt. It’s your aptitude. People with adaptability are both flexible and versatile. Of course, our level of adaptability can be stronger in some situations than in others. For example, we tend to be more adaptable at work with people we know less, and less adaptable at home with people we know better (Alessandra, 2016).
The Importance of Adaptability
Researchers looked at individuals who cope best with life and inquired: “What qualities and strengths do these people have that enables them to cope with change, experiencing minimum distress?” (Mill, 2015)
The following key qualities have been presented:
- Resilience- the ability to bounce back from adversity. This is a vital quality since life is full of challenges – no one escapes them. Sometimes a challenge can really take its toll, and sometimes you may even feel crushed. However, a resilient person does not stay down. Sooner or later a resilient person gets up, recovers, and moves on with life.
- Flexibility– the capacity to go with the flow. Like a soft reed blowing in the wind, a flexible person can move with environmental pressures and not “snap” under pressure. There is no rigidity, only fluidity. Flexibility is important in day-to-day life as there tends to be oppositional forces at work.
- Adaptability– the ability to make changes and adaptations as you go. There is no major adversity taking place, nor is there a flexible option. Demands from the environment require you to adapt yourself and learn new skills to cope with the new environment with which you are presented.
Since we are facing a rather stressful situation currently, managing your stress is essential if you are to be able to adapt, and adapt well.
When it comes to stressing less, we must be willing to create a new approach. Old methods for managing stress leave may us fragile and miserable because they do not identify or face the root issues behind the pressure (Janeksela, 2019).
While stress might be an inevitable part of life for most, there are numerous ways to adapt. The goal is engaging in healthier choices to better suit the human experience (Janeksela, 2019). Stress crumbles in the face of those who choose to look at it more positively—which is why adaptability is key.
Integrating adaptability just means altering a few habits, which can be done in less time than you might expect (Janeksela, 2019). As long as you are willing to be consistent in your practice, you’ll reap the benefits tenfold. Channel your energies toward a life with less stress and watch your enjoyment go through the roof and into the cosmos.
Know That Everything is Temporary.
Realise that nothing can stay the same, ever. Life does not work on these principles. The only constant is change (Janeksela, 2019). When you are able to embrace that philosophy, anything that comes your way will begin to lose its stress-inducing reaction. Remind yourself, “This is temporary and shall pass,” regardless of how intense the stress may seem at first. The more you engage in this thought pattern, the sooner you’ll slip into a mental space that’s much more relaxing and stable.
Here are some tips to help you better manage stress (Janeksela, 2019):
This is a common one, but works wonders… The breath and its ability to flow and move with ease is a prime example of being adaptable. While we don’t pay much attention to our breathing, ‘breathwork’ is a proven to technique to reduce stress.
Be an optimal optimist.
Focus on what can go well, rather than on what could go wrong. Being non-reactive by changing language is a tool that builds better habits and reduces stress. For instance, instead of saying, “I’m so stressed. I can’t manage this. It’s too much,” how about going for a more uplifting phrase like, “This is a challenge that I can manage, and I go into it with great confidence.” While this might feel strange in the beginning, the more you practice positive self-talk, the more it becomes natural.
Accept that failure is essential.
Accepting failure is a part of the process and evolution toward less stress. Learning typically happens from failing: Each mistake is a lesson about how to do something better. Do not beat yourself up over mistakes; as a matter of fact, look at them as steppingstones and ladders, propelling you forward into your best self. When you embrace failure, your body adapts, which helps you push into and beyond growth edges.
Find your space.
You can foster adaptability by changing small habits or routines, increasing wellness through better sleep, and eating habits, for example. While in the middle of the change, notice how your mind and body respond.
There are times where being flexible is all you need to function well. In difficult times, resilience is required. However, most of the time adapting to the ever-changing demands of the environment is a must if you want to function well and feel good (Mill, 2015).
Since life is always evolving, and different demands are made on you, being able to adapt and evolve is key to staying calm, happy, and productive.
To be adaptable right now, place your energy on the things you can control – your daily routine, taking care of yourself, how often you choose to look at the news, what work you can realistically get on with during this time or making time to reflect on your current situation and what you might do in the future (Prince, 2020). Your control is on the small actions day-to-day. You will want to veer towards big decisions and big actions but right now, adapting successfully is about focusing on the small things (Prince, 2020).
Embracing change, adapting a go-with-the-flow attitude and being flexible are all skills that have been highly underrated (Janeksela, 2019). We thrive with motivation, and you can be your biggest cheerleader by engaging in small acts of self-kindness.