Navigate Uncertain Times
How do we then navigate uncertain times and keep our heads above water and focus on the good. Simply put, we focus on the good and strive to find the beauty in each and every day. Times are tough, frightening, and uncertain, there is no doubt about that. With so many out of work, working virtually, learning on virtual platforms, there is a sense of loss, fear, confusion, and grief. As the weeks go on, as they turn into months, we may feel more detached from ourselves. We may find we are becoming irritable, bitter, and resentful. It is okay to feel that way. We have all, in some way or another, lost our daily routines and had to build another type of routine. For many, a sense of purpose seems like it doesn’t exist, our livelihoods have been put on hold, and with regulations changing on a weekly basis, this “new normal” has even more unknowns and uncertainty than it did when it first began. While we know, on some level, that this is temporary, it doesn’t always feel that way. There is a longing for things to be back to “normal” however, I can only wonder what normal will mean to people after this pandemic ends. How will it have changed us, this is a traumatic event that we are experiencing as a people, across the globe. There is no doubt, that each one of us will come out on the other end of this slightly different than before it started.
Learning to Manage Change
It’s been a great season of change and growth for all of us, across the globe. Since late 2019 when COVID-19 hit and inevitably changed our lives in some way, shape, or form, whether we were prepared for it or not. We all manage change in different ways, it’s important to have the mindset that change in inevitable. We may have expectations of the way things should be, how we want them to be, or believe we need them to be, however we can’t predict the future. Setting the expectation that change will happen no matter if we want it to or feel ready will help us manage the change no matter how big or small that change may be. We have all certainly asked ourselves at one point or another “how will this affect me?” and perhaps we have begun to reflect all the ways that it has already.
We are home more, some with family, and some completely solo. Many have lost jobs with no guarantee that they will have a job to go back to. Businesses have been closed for months. Schools, shut down, leaving parents to not only parent, work, and be caretakers of the home, but also to be co-teachers for their children. Weddings postponed, graduations cancelled, baby’s being born who haven’t met their extended families. Funerals are limited, leaving less closure for those who have lost a loved one during these trying times.
Coping with Change
Some things to keep in mind to help manage with change in uncertain times are to focus on what you already have. Focus on the good. It might seem cliché, however keeping a positive mindset and an optimistic outlook will help you mentally and emotionally during these times. Use your rational mind, take a step back for a moment if you are feeling anxious or stressed. Remind yourself that you have ways to cope and manage your feelings to decrease the uncomfortable feelings. This will allow your nervous system to not only calm down, but to think more clearly as well. Rather than allowing yourself to go into fight or flight, calm yourself, protect yourself, and ground yourself. You have the ability to do this with your rational mind.
Focus on what you can control, a big part of getting through this is acceptance, accepting that this is where we are as not only a nation, but as a global people. Acceptance is going to be key for helping yourself and others get through this challenging time. There are so many things out of reach, out of our control, however, if we chose to focus on those things we will ultimately feel worse. Focus instead on what you can do. You can keep yourself healthy, wash your hands, only go out if absolutely necessary, practice self-care, and keep up with your basic activities of daily living. The basics, bathing, dressing, being mobile and active, eating, and basic hygiene.
Navigating Your Feelings
Its okay if you are having mixed feelings, grief, anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, or a combination of feelings. That’s normal during times that simply put, aren’t normal at all. Embrace whatever it is you are feeling, allow yourself to truly feel it. For each of us, we will cope a little differently, we will deal with the lack of connection, the losses in our lives no matter how big or small, in our own ways. You may notice you feel different daily, or even by the hour or minute. That’s okay. Many are still in denial that COVID-19 is as dangerous as the media, CDC, and WHO state, they don’t believe they will be affected, they don’t believe still that they will at some point know someone who dies from this virus. This isn’t just denial, it’s also a fear of the unknown. It’s a coping mechanism. There is anger and resentment to loss of jobs, in-person schooling, in-person graduations, weddings, showers, and sadly, even funerals. Embrace those feelings, and try and use any negative emotions, take that energy and do something beneficial for yourself or others. Go for a walk or run, learn a new skill, cook a meal, sing and dance like no one is watching, because unless you have a house full of people, no one is watching right now.
Pause before you react, remember while we think we have control over our lives, there are few things that we actually control. Try to pause before you speak, our words are powerful and once they are out in the universe they can’t be taken back. Try and focus on more positive words, and reframe what you say to share your feelings while also trying to be even 1% more positive and optimistic. For example, we are supposed to social distance, right? Well, personally I like to say physically distance. We are still socializing, just in a very different way than we have in the past.
Try and put things into perspective, like every crisis we may stumble upon in our lifetime, each crisis is unique. Putting things into perspective will help reduce stress and anxiety. We have fought some sort of crisis or adversity before, and at the time, we also believed it was the end of the world, however, here we are. We made it through then, and we will make it through this crisis as well. These things challenge us, yet they also help us learn and grow, not just as individuals, but as a people united. Consider what you can take away from all of this, consider what you have already learned, and reframe the crisis so that you view the positive. While it may be hard to believe in the moment, we must remember that after every storm the sun shines again.