Dear SCBC Community,

I want to commence this email with heartfelt prayer for our east coast Australian families who have been affected by floods. Similarly, we pray for family members in Ukraine that they will be able to endure and triumph over their life-threatening circumstances. We pray for God’s peace and presence for all involved.  

Given this current season of time, including recent world events, it’s highly likely you’ve experienced some degree of change-fatigue. We’re adapting to constant change, including the adding of Rapid Antigen Tests to our medicine cupboards; home and work.

We’re also adjusting to the latest mask-wearing directives. Within a context of SCBC conscientiousness, we encourage you to wear your masks all the time, if on the school’s campus. Technically, you don’t have to while outside, except when there is inadequate social distancing. We hope you will. Masks are mandatory inside for Year 3 upwards.

When researching: ‘How to cope in times of rapid change’, I ‘came across the below practical tips. I also rediscovered research Psychologist, Dr Paul Wong (PhD). He reflects that our ‘new normal’ may be good for us. We can hopefully all soon be the judge!  

Here are the tips on rapid change, followed by Dr Wong’s reasons on why our adjusting new normal could be good for us.  

Coping with Change

Change is an unavoidable constant in our work lives. Sometimes it’s within our control, but most often it’s not. There are ways to adapt to change, and even to take advantage of it.

Find the humour in the situation. Trying to find a funny moment during an otherwise unfunny situation can be a fantastic way to solve a vexing problem with an unexpected, new perspective. It can help others feel better as well. A good rule of thumb is that other people’s strife is no laughing matter, but your own struggles can be a source of comedic gold.

Talk about problems more than feelings. One of the most common myths of coping with unwanted changes is the idea that we can “work through” our anger, fears, and frustrations by talking about them a lot. This isn’t always the case. In fact, research shows that actively and repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural ability to adjust and adapt. That’s not to say you should just “suck it up” or ignore your troubles. Instead, call out your anxiety or your anger at the outset of a disorienting change so that you are aware of how it might distort your thinking or disrupt your relationships. Then look for practical advice about what to do next. By doing so, you’ll zero in on the problems you can solve, instead of lamenting the ones you can’t.

Don’t stress out about stressing out. Our beliefs about stress matter. As Stanford Psychologist, Kelly McGonigal, argues in The Upside of Stress, your reaction to stress has a greater impact on your health and success than the stress itself. If you believe stress kills you, it will. If you believe stress is trying to carry you over a big obstacle or through a challenging situation, you’ll become more resilient and may even live longer. Stress can be a good thing — if you choose to see it that way.

Focus on your values instead of your fears. Reminding ourselves of what’s important to us — family, friends, Christian faith, scientific achievement, great music, creative expression, and so on — can create a surprisingly powerful buffer against whatever troubles may be ailing us. Gratitude too is one of the most successful buffers against negativity. If interested, I encourage you to research Robert Emmons and gratitude.

Accept the past, but focus on the future. Even though we are never free from change, we are always free to decide how we respond to it.

Don’t expect stability. Think of change as an expected part of the human experience, rather than as a tragic anomaly that victimizes unlucky people. In time of change, successful people remain engaged in their work and can even spot opportunities to fix long-standing problems. Successful people chose to accept change.


7 Reasons Why The New Normal May Be Good For You

Acceptance is the first step toward personal transformation. The world is full of dangers in the era of COVID-19, regardless of one’s rosy worldview. In fact, ‘toxic positivity’ and ‘unrealistic optimism’ may be bad for you during the pandemic according to recent research.

The need for connections is at the heart of our loneliness epidemic. 2020’s lockdown and 2022’s new rules have made us all feel more isolated. Loneliness has already been an epidemic, adversely affecting so many people’s physical and mental health. The loneliness epidemic poses a health risk especially for seniors.

We need to learn ‘emphatic attunement’. When we have less time to enjoy social gatherings with others, it is easy to be agitated and get into arguments. With COVID-19 fatigue, many people are irritable. It does not take long to see a conversation degenerate into a heated argument. Sometimes, a single well-intended harmless statement can trigger an explosion. Worse still, there is a surge in domestic violence and divorce rates during COVID-19. This season of intermittent chaos is an opportunity to voluntarily join others in their mess. Rather move away from others, we move towards them and their challenges.

Self-awareness of your true-self can silence the ruminating brain. During long hours of social isolation, our ruminating brain tends to take over. We may feel tormented by shame and guilt because of our past mistakes. But this is also a time for cultivating self-awareness. When we consider the more positive aspects of human nature, we begin to realize that it is OK to be not OK, because we are all broken in some places in a broken world. Self-compassion is needed to accept ourselves with the same kindness and forgiveness as we accept others.

What does not kill you make your stronger. Trauma, disasters and disappointments have affected many families. Some of us have lost loved ones during the last couple of years. Some have lost their jobs. But life goes on and the sun rises. If we believe that, we will soon recover from the pandemic, then we will not only survive it, but also become stronger. If we persevere and continue to move forward by faith, it will be alright at the end.  

Embrace uncertainty – it is never too late to start a new chapter. We are going through a time of great uncertainty and chaos. But nothing is permanent in this life. Clinging to what we cannot keep will only bring us sorrow and misery. Life is a complex system, always in flux. Wellbeing is a matter of adapting to the changes and navigating a balance between order and chaos.

Discover joy in the midst of suffering. When the well-trodden roads to happiness are no longer available, there is always a road less travelled. You can still experience happiness in difficult times. The road less travelled could be to accept and be content with the inevitable changes in life.


Scripture for your encouragement

‘ …for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.’ (James 1:4)

Blessings to you and your family,

Des Mitchell