Strategies Adopted from Cultural Shock Experience to Shift COVID-19 Cultural Stress

 Nurul Aini Rizqina

Tadris Bahasa Inggris A6


The world that we knew so well is suddenly operating differently since Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) outbreak spread in Indonesia. Our schedule is suddenly rescheduled, postpone, and even cancelled. The growing spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia forced a couple from Sidoarjo, East Java to postpone the reception (Jakarta Post). National exam for elementary, junior high, and high school that expected to occur on February 2020 were cancelled, because it was impossible to force students to gather for the national exam under the threat of the pandemic. In transportation field is in the same boat, state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura has reported that a total of 18,300 flights at its 15 airports have been canceled from January to mid-March to reduce demand due to the spread of COVID-19. Since stay at home situation happened I started to watch my WhatsApp and Instagram story, got to know what people up to? Before pandemic COVID19 my contact status WhatsApp are full of outdoor activities like hang out, shopping, hiking, doing vacation, exercise at Gym center, sing at Happy Puppy, and other. But now, they start cooking, running online business, trying so heavy to adjust with virtual learning, watching Korean drama, subscribing Netflix, sunbathing, or scrolling a cell phone a hundred kilometers with their thumbs. In my daily life I started to cook, do chores a lot, do something that I used to rarely do like to make Instagram and YouTube content since I love editing and talking (considering I do not have a lot online friends to talk to), and trying to not go outside. 

 Clearly, a huge number of people are suffering culture shock as a result of habitual daily life changing. An article written by Kalervo Oberg, a Canadian anthropologist claimed culture shock is precipitated by the anxiety that results from losing all our familiar signs and symbols of social intercourse. These signs or cues include the thousand and one ways in which we orient ourselves to the situations of daily life. Our daily life habit changed, stay at home situation, no shaking hands, physical distancing, always wash our hands, wear medical and non-medical mask shifted into the compulsory thing to do (WHO).  I read and watch numerous national and international news claimed that the government finds the difficulties to handle their people to "stay at home". We are all in culture shock. Although there is the end stage of culture shock where people adjust and accept the new culture, still, it takes longer period of time. The negative side has been aired in Indonesian mental health.  For instance, news update about COVID-19 about number of deaths, speculation and rumors from Internet users can be extremely overwhelming. My aunt, she’s 63 years old stays at home alone get really stressful after reading the news and article related to COVID-19. Since government encouraged institutions to study at home, some of my friends including me be the great procrastinator than used to.  Furthermore, stay at home situations as we known as quarantine causes limited chance for in-person socializing and decreased variety of activities are difficult for extroverts. I am kind of extrovert person, I used to teach every single day and night, or hang out with my close friend. This situation has been so hard on me. 

Well, why is it so important to know all these culture shock? You don’t care? Let me show you how stress and anxiety unconsciously affect your body. According to American Physiological Association, stress and anxiety could cause headache, migraine headache, trigger asthma attack, immune disorders, increasing acid production in stomach, digestion problems, irregular menstruation cycle and more painful periods. During the pandemic, especially quarantine, I felt terrible painful period and digestion problems.

Here some strategies to reduce stress and anxiety before getting worse. First, limiting time spent on news platforms and social media. Second, hi extrovert, you’re not struggling alone? Make a video or phone call with your old friends, best friends, and family and tell them you funny or silly experience lately or discuss about movie that you’ve recommended. If you stay with you family, try to share something that you never done before, even it sounds awkward but worth it. Third, stay healthy with drinking plenty of water, eat well, or maybe you can make some snacks or cooks from Youtube recipe. Fourth, try to keep yourself busy, and do the new things. NOW! Fifth, for a great procrastinator, you need stick to a routine and setting small goal. For me, I do my assignment in chucks. And now, how do we manage our stress and anxiety? All those strategies could manage our stress and anxiety, we can do more at regular physical exercise so that we can sleep at night deeper. In addition, we need to maintain ‘a healthy’ social support and network. The last, but not least, we need to close to our God. If you are Muslim, listen to religion study and recite holy Quran. For me personally, I watch Hannan Attaki and Quraish Shihab as my source of getting insight of Islam.

Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya said “When Allah tests you it is never to destroy you. When Allah removes something in your possession it is only in order to empty your hands for an even greater gift”. No matter how serious and sad all of this outbreak COVID-19, there are upsides as well. Here we go to the bright side. Disrupting of outbreak COVID-19 gives us opportunity to reflect on things and consider what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Make our life more efficient. Maybe we might actually want to keep the ‘new habit’ after the crisis. Innovation, my lecturer who doesn’t really familiar with online based learning now forced to be more innovative. My offline English course now innovates to be learning based social media. I watched in YouTube some employees said that virtual meeting is so effective because the meeting was shorter, focus, and systematic. Better environment, yeah you know what I mean. Road traffic has reduced and the air getting fresher without pollution. Before outbreak COVID-19 I spend money without thinking to buy snacks and anything I want, but now I have no income to spend. It makes me think so many times to buy something. This crisis has a huge dark side, but it’s possible to find positive side as well. If we keep on looking the bright side of life, we’ll get better life even during this crisis.

Photo by Anna Auza on Unsplash

Back to Top