The Psychology of Adjustment and How to Manage it
Humans are always in a constant state of adjustment right from birth. Adjusting and achieving life goals despite unpredictive changes is a major determinant of mental health and psychological wellness. Adjustment is the capability to adapt to changes in the environment by balancing conflicting needs or reaching out to achieve goals despite obstacles in the environment. The more prized and valued a pursuit, goal or vision is, the higher the level of adjustments required. Every new situation requires a reasonable level of adjustment in order to fit one’s lifestyle into the prevailing circumstances. However, most individuals hardly successfully transit from a particular pattern of living to another. The process of adjustment becomes a daunting task when people refuse to make necessary lifestyle changes thereby resulting in adjustment disorder.
Adjustment is necessary to reduce the consequences of a negative life occurrence such as war, insurgency, terminal illness, economic crisis, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, property or relationship such as divorce. These are most of the time sudden and unprecedented as well as surrounded with such uncertainties that becloud proper reasoning. The process of adjustment begins with acceptance of the situation. E.g. choosing to accept the reality of the dreaded occurrence. E.g. loss of a job. Adjustment is a journey that begins with the realization that a vacuum has been created, an assessment of whether there exists the possibility of the vacuum to be filled and being decisive to live with the findings. This is indeed a hard nut to crack.
It is a truism to state that pleasant occurrences and great life achievements such as the birth of a child, a promotion at work, a new job offer, marriage, etc. also require adjustment. The impact of poor adjustment to both positive and negative life occurrences is more often than not the same. Achievements of life ambitions and goals can create eustress when loss and negative life experiences generate distress. The fact remains that tangible efforts must be put in motion to ensure balance. The irony however lies in the shocking reality that the non-existence of change “no conquest, no defeat” also requires a reasonable level of adjustment. This involves retaining the same job with unchanged job designation, placement and work location for years, long-term relationships such as marriage, etc. The puzzle here is that adjustment in certain instances may not relate to changes around humans but within them.
Poor adjustment skills may result in deplorable living conditions for individuals resulting in greater damage which may last a lifetime. A major symptom of poor adjustment skills is depression. Depression is a common disease worldwide and it can progress from mild to moderate to severe. There are several other symptoms of poor adjustment skills. They include;
- Low moods
- Frequent crying.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Low concentration.
- Withdrawal from social activities.
- Lack of appetite.
- Negative emotions such as heightened anxiety, stress, and jittering.
- Suicidal ideation.
Adjustment is not preventable; however, healthy coping skills can be deployed to improve the quality of life. Individuals should take responsibility for their mental wellness by being intentional about life choices and decisions. The following tips would be helpful;
- Build a healthy social network
- Plan ahead for predictable adjustment needs such as retirement, childbirth, marriage, etc.
- Practise optimism. Positive perception reduces stress and creates positive energy.
- Conduct an unbiased survey of your actions and inactions to ascertain the triggers of circumstances creating complex needs for adjustment.
- Use lifestyle choices to minimize the need for adjustments. For example, healthy living can reduce the severity of existing health conditions, proper budgeting can reduce economic hardship, etc.
- Seek professional help in handling daunting circumstances so as to reduce complications. E.g. engaging the service of a therapist, lawyer, nutritionist, etc.
- Develop relevant skills which are considered prerequisites for desired goal attainment.
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