After the Wave

water on rocks image

When the world is in flux, the future can seem uncertain and leave us feeling unsettled and apprehensive.

If a situation is complex or affects us on a global scale, there might be significant and prolonged uncertainty which can make us feel really stressed. Learning new ways to adapt to change will help us to face challenges, whatever they look like, with our wellbeing intact.

Strategies often suggested

  • Gather reliable information to help understand what is changing
  • Adopt a growth mind-set and see change as an opportunity 
  • List the things you can control during times of uncertainty and take action on them 
  • Actively manage stress or anxiety by doing things that help
  • Find out how other students at Adelaide Uni feel 
  • Expose yourself slowly to change so you become familiar with the feeling
  • Write out a new routine with opportunities for fun
  • Be patient and kind with yourself
  • Write a list of all the changes you have faced and mastered
  • Allow yourself time to grieve the “old” normal


Below you will find three common blocks (barriers and misconceptions) that can prevent us from engaging constructively with change

  • What if there is a second wave of infection

    As restrictions ease, we might worry about our risk of exposure to illness. Whilst returning to workplaces or study means letting go of some control, there are some really important actions we can take to reduce or minimise risk. Things like:

    1. Adhering to social distancing
    2. Prioritising hand hygiene
    3. Consulting reputable sources of information and adhering to local health guidelines

    Focusing on what we can control is a powerful way to approach change and reduce anxiety.

  • What is “normal”

    Perhaps change is the “new normal”? So let’s ask ourselves a different question – “What helpful routine can I start building today?” Start with some simple routines around sleep, exercise and relaxation as these activities support our wellbeing. For work or study, again, keep it simply. For example, if you are changing location, start travelling to uni and back to re-familiarise yourself with the physical space.

  • I don’t know how to adjust to change

    The COVID-19 pandemic has turned many things upside down. The future may also pose challenges that disrupt our planning and require us to adapt. Whilst this can feel initially overwhelming, pick one thing to focus on and make a realistic plan to address it. It’s super stress-busting and helps us feel in control. Here are some ideas:

    Sleep – choose a realistic time to get up and set your alarm for tomorrow. It’s much easier to control when we wake than when we fall asleep.

    Study – make a list of all the things you need to complete before the end of semester. Sketch out a realistic timetable to decide what steps you need to take next. You might need to ask for an extension or talk to your course coordinator in order to make some progress.


Below are three things you can do to boost success.

  • Address worries

    A further wave of infection is a possibility and it falls into the ‘unknown’ and ‘can’t control’ category of worries. It can be helpful to think concretely about how we would cope in this situation and what actions we would take. If this is challenging then consider talking to friends, family or a professional. Changing “what if I get sick” into “then what actions can I take” can be a powerful way of reducing anxiety even for difficult situations.

  • Re-adjust

    We reduce anxiety and build confidence by doing something regularly. There’s no time like the present so pick one thing and take the first small step. Afterwards, write down one positive thing from the experience. Plan to practice the new change again tomorrow and so on until it starts to feel more normal. The push yourself to take the next step. Give yourself some credit for how resilient and determined you can be!

  • Grieve and celebrate

    It is OK to grieve the loss of our pre-COVID routines. The way we spend time together, the way we study and work, even the way we exercise together has changed and some of these changes might persist for a long time. It’s important to acknowledge that we can feel loss and sadness around this. At the same time, we can also find ways to notice and celebrate positive things we encounter as we re-engage with the physical world around us or reflect on the enjoyable iso-activities we discovered. Finding something to be grateful for doesn’t discount our struggles but helps us to embrace change more readily.

Need more info?

Explore one of our booklets

Disaster Anxiety

Coping with change

Techniques to deal with anxiety

Coping with health epidemics