There’s no denying it – cheerleading is not the same anymore, at least for now. The situation looks very different for teams around the world. Some are able to practice as normal as possible, and others are practicing entirely virtual.
These differences in our sport make it hard to maintain positivity, hope, and motivation. Everyone reacts in a different way, so it’s important that we try to understand each other.
The 4 stages of reacting to change
According to mindtools.com, there are 4 stages that we go through when reacting to change. Some get through these stages much quicker than others, it varies from person to person.
Some have started moving on already, others haven’t.
That’s why we must communicate with our athletes, parents, staff, friends, family, and community.
1. Shock and disorientation
The first stage is when we experience an unexpected, big change. We feel confused and like everything is unknown, unable to get a sense of what the new situation is like.
Remember that many are still at this stage! To help with the shock and disorientation, we must look for reliable information. We are all flooded by new, messages, and information – and some aren’t even true.
Try not to take in information from every source. Find reliable ones and discuss the rumors and false claims to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Anger & other emotional responses
In this stage, we typically feel positive one second and negative again a second later.
Emotions play a big part, which means we all react differently again. Some might feel anger, some feel fear, and others feel sadness. Some might even feel everything at once. It’s important to allow yourself and others to feel what they feel. There is no right or wrong way! You have to be able to feel before you can work on those feelings.
The next part of this stage is learning to control these feelings. Also, think about what you can share with others and what you should keep to yourself…
You’re allowed to feel negativity, but you might not want to spread it!
3. Coming to terms with the “new normal”
The third stage is where we start to realize what’s new and changing. This doesn’t mean we’re feeling or pretending like everything is okay! It means that we focus more clearly on what these changes actually mean and adjust to them, both mentally and physically.
4. Acceptance & moving forward
People in this stage have fully accepted the new situation.
When we’re at this stage, we have started to move, and make plans, and set goals for the future. We know what we want to focus on and how to make the most out of the “new normal” situation.
How we can change our thoughts – an experiment
It’s easy to think negative thoughts, especially when we’re surrounded by negativity.
There is an experiment from physicist Erwin Schrödinger, called “Schrödinger’s Cat”, that illustrates our ability to shift our thoughts.
Here’s what it says:
“A cat is placed in a box with a vial of poison. The box is sealed. The vial will open at some time and kill the cat. However, as long as the box is sealed, you have no way of knowing if the cat is alive or dead, so you can think of the cat as both alive and dead at the same time.”
See the difference? The point of this is to show how our feelings and attitude affect how we deal with change.
Right now, we have no idea what’s on the other side of this situation, but we can choose to think in a different way. We don’t know if the outcome is negative, but we also don’t know if it’s positive!
How to cope with change
Now that we know the different stages of going through change it’s time to talk about how to cope with change.
This is when resilience comes in!
Resilience is defined as “Your ability to cope with change is a measure of your resilience. The good news: Resilience is like a muscle. You can strengthen it.” (medium.com)
7 ways to strengthen your resilience:
1. Accept that the cheerleading world looks different right now! It is tough but trying to fight it won’t help either. Don’t try to escape dealing with these changes.
2. Figure out what’s troubling you the most. Is it the actual pandemic? That the season is delayed? That there won’t be a season at all? Get to the root of why you’re worried before trying to move forward.
3. Plan ahead. It might not feel like you can plan much right now, but it can be small things! Plan a few days forward and add small things that you enjoy doing.
4. Have a schedule. This might also feel hard, but try to create routines. Doing so will make you feel a little calmer, as some things in your life will be the same.
5. Celebrate the positive things, no matter how small!
6. Don’t assume the worst. It can be hard to stay positive but try not to be too negative either. Focus on what you can actually control.
7. Look for help. Talk to a parent, friend, coach, etc. if you need extra help. There is absolutely no shame in needing help!
If you have suggestions for more topics like this, please comment or send us an email!