COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms – Who do I want to be during the pandemic?

COVID-19 Coping Mechanisms – Who do I want to be during the pandemic?

Michele C du Plessis

The COVID-19 pandemic has already created substantial and fundamental changes in our world. Whilst many of these changes have already become permanent and a new world awaits us once the crises abate, we must cope daily in this transformed world.

There are four ‘zones’ that we can be in emotionally. In the very useful graphic printed with this article, the reader can see where they are with different issues.

The Comfort Zone

We all feel safe and secure in our comforts zones. It doesn’t matter where we are on our journeys as there will always be a place of comfort where we feel secure.

The Fear Zone

Have you ever felt that you need to break free from your comfort zone and experience something new? You want to take that first step, but that niggling fear is keeping you from pushing yourself onwards.

In the fear zone during this pandemic, we have all experienced the following: Hoarding supplies that we might need; complaining about not being able to do all the things we could do pre-COVID-19 and transferring your fear and anger to others, most probably to your nearest and dearest.

“As we step out of our comfort zone, we feel the fear, but sometimes we come to realise that fear over a particular issue might not be that bad. This means our comfort zone extends to incorporate it – we feel okay about that issue now. As we grow our zones will, therefore, grow with us.”

The Learning Zone

The learning zone is where we deal with challenges and problems and acquire new skills. As we face our fears, we realise that learning helps us and gives us the tools to get over those fears more quickly and efficiently. This also extends your comfort zone.

In the learning zone, we stop doing things that might harm us, for instance, food. We let go of things that we cannot control and we become aware of situations and we think about the best way to act. During the learning zone, we also learn communication skills that enable us to understand other people’s ways of communicating.

The Growth Zone 

Our dreams might change as we develop through these zones and yes, as the image suggests, we will make new goals whilst conquering others. Or, we formulate a new plan to reach our goals if the first plan didn’t work out. Our lives in work and play are ever-expanding.

It’s important to remember that right now you may feel comfortable about lots of things – but this comfort has likely been firmly placed in the fear zone in the past. So, whilst you may think you’re working in your comfort zone (and maybe berating yourself for not being more risk-averse and feeling that fear), you’re most likely, spreading across all of the zones in different areas of your life.

In the growth zone we – Find a purpose; think how we can help others; use our skills to service the ones in need; show empathy to yourself and others. We live in the present and focus on the future; we try to keep ourselves emotionally calm, happy and most importantly, we transmit hope for the future. We find ways to adapt to changes and practise calmness, patience, relationships and creativity. But, most important of all, we show gratefulness.


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