Five tips for navigating through uncertainty
We all face uncertainty in our lives at one time or another. For some, not knowing what lies ahead creates feelings of excitement and hope, while for others it can feel like walking through a forest blindfolded. As I write this article, we are all amid unprecedented times with the recent outbreak of COVID-19. What may have felt like something that was far away from us is now quickly becoming part of our daily lives causing us to rapidly change our work and home routines to adjust to a new normal. Even when we aren’t dealing with a major global crisis, there are many other life events that can leave us feeling restless and uncertain.
While we can’t predict the outcome of events, or even control them, we can control how we respond.
Here are five tips to navigate through times of uncertainty to leave you with a greater sense of peace.
1. Adapt – recognise that what we resist persists. Consider if there is anything that can (and should) be done to change the situation. If the answer is out of your control, then it is time to accept the reality of the situation and make necessary adjustments. Consider all the technological advances that have occurred over recent decades. From smartphones to social media the world is a vastly different place than it was 20 years ago. Even those initially resistant to the smartphone era eventually adapted as recent polls show close to 80% of the UK owning a smartphone. It is rare to look around today and find a person who isn’t texting their friends or posting to their Facebook or Instagram account. Many of us would even find it difficult to remember how we went about our daily lives without a mobile device. This shows how adaptive we really are.
2. Stay calm – when dealing with unfamiliar events, as we are with the COVID-19 crisis, it is a common response to experience feelings of anxiety. When fear creeps in, remember to take a deep breath and focus on the now. Try and limit your thoughts from worrying about what is going to happen in the coming months and instead reflect on the things in your life that are the same; that you can keep constant. Perhaps it is your morning run along the river or reading to your children at bedtime. Make a list of the things you can keep front and centre in your daily routine. These familiar activities will be a source of comfort when the rest of the world feels out of control.
3. Find the silver linings – there is always a positive to take from every situation, as challenging as it may seem to find. Maybe you were recently made redundant from your job of 15 years and are struggling to see the good in the situation. This could now be your chance to build the business you have been dreaming about all these years. Or perhaps, you recently ended a long-term relationship. This could be an opportunity to invest in the relationship with yourself. As the saying goes 'when one door closes another one opens'. Try and remember a time in your life when you overcame a challenging situation, coming out of it better and stronger than you were before. Once you pick yourself up and brush yourself off when life knocks you down, you will find (over time) there are always silver linings.
4. Get creative – with the global virus pandemic many of us are finding creative ways to keep connecting at a distance. While we may not be able to go out for a coffee after yoga with our classmates or head to the local pub for happy hour at the end of the work week, that doesn’t have to stop us from spending time with friends and family. The difference now is how we spend time together, usually over phone or video calls. With Netflix parties and virtual gym classes, there is an abundance of fun and interesting ways to stay connected. We may even find that we are deepening our relationships as we are forced to slow down and have more time for meaningful conversations (silver lining!).
5. Laugh – when faced with anxiety that often accompanies the feeling of uncertainty, laughter truly is the best medicine. Laughing has been shown to improve physical and emotional health, which is especially needed in stressful situations. Whether we are snickering over the absurdity in our lives (who would have thought there would be a shortage of toilet rolls) or watching reruns of Friends, it is important to keep our sense of humour.
Remember that in times of uncertainty, this too shall pass. Stay strong and keep smiling.
Having someone to talk to during this difficult time can be really helpful. Speak to friends or family on the phone, or if you think you may benefit from some professional help then why not find a coach online.