You could not be blamed for seeing 2020 as THE year of uncertainty. Our health, our income, and our very way of life seem to be under threat and very much in flux. What if I told you that uncertainty is our constant companion regardless of pandemics, elections, and civil unrest? Every moment is chock full of possibilities — good, bad, indifferent. None of us knows what will happen next. And what if I told you that living with uncertainty, therefore, does not automatically equate to unhappiness?
Uncertainty is Inevitable…but it Can be Worse at Times
Let’s establish two important realities:
- Uncertainty is a certainty; in life, it comes with the territory.
- At times, uncertainty will feel more daunting.
In our current age, reality #2 rules the day. In fact, research shows that the uncertainty around a bad thing happening can harm you more than knowing something bad will happen. It’s the not knowing that kicks our primitive defense mechanisms into high gear. Our brain is trying to protect us but can get stuck in this state. Soon enough, everything looks and feels like a threat. This takes a toll on our bodies and our minds.
7 Ways You Can Still Live Well in a Time of Extreme Uncertainty
1. Identify Your Patterns
You can introduce a dose of certainty into the mix by monitoring yourself.
We all have certain habitual approaches to the challenges we face in life, many of them unconscious and learned in childhood. For some of us, that’s anxiety. For others, it’s the sense that nothing will work out anyway, so why try? Some approach challenges by catastrophizing. Other people go back to bed! Still others try to control everything and everyone around them in a futile effort to try to calm down. Some people approach challenges with the certainty that they will get through whatever hardship they face. They are determined to make the best of whatever situation they face.
What’s your habitual approach? If you have the self-awareness to identify your patterns, you can catch yourself and work around the ones that aren’t productive.
2. Stay in the Moment
Uncertainty is almost always about the future — even if that future is just a few minutes from now. Mindfulness teaches us to take it one step at a time. In the present moment, we can feel more rooted and in control. Look into meditation and breathing exercises.
3. Maintain Social Connections
Do not go it alone! Find a safe way to connect with people who validate and perhaps share your concerns. If that’s not feasible, please consider contacting a therapist (see below).
The past few months have introduced each of us to the importance of mitigation. Suggestions 4 through 7 are about reducing the inevitable, yet rising uncertainty:
4. Enjoy Daily Physical Activity
Movement soothes the body and mind. Take regular breaks to move, stretch, sweat, and exercise. Studies show the myriad positive effects this can have in times of high stress.
5. Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule
Everything is tougher when your sleep is off-kilter. Get diligent with your bedtime and morning wake-ups. Regular sleep patterns can be a solid foundation in the struggle against uncertainty.
6. Support Healthy Eating Habits
What you eat and how you eat can dramatically shift your mood. It can also fortify you for the unpredictable rises and falls of life in 2020. Don’t leave this to chance.
7. Take Regular Tech Breaks
That device in your hands is an uncertainty accelerator. Schedule in regular tech breaks each day to detox yourself from the headlines and clickbait. Use that time to do something like exercise, cooking, or connecting with a trusted friend.
Certainty: Counseling Can Help
Uncertainty can cause us to doubt our abilities and fear the future. It may also bring with it a sense of loneliness — as if no one understands our anxiety. A giant first step toward managing emotions like this is to reach out for help. Regular sessions — via video chat or in-person — with a skilled professional may provide a feeling of safety amidst the turmoil.
You can work through your urgent concerns. You can also strategize ways to deal with the long-term reality of more uncertainty. Thanks to anxiety counseling, you can be certain that you are doing the work to accept and navigate an unpredictable and volatile time. Please reach out for a consultation soon.
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