Dealing with Uncertain Times

This year turned out to be quite different from what I expected. I had a really good feeling about 2020 and thought: this is my year. Like everyone else I made plans. Little did I know. COVID happened.

I started following the news diligently especially after COVID hit New York and went on a rampage in the City. Every morning I went through various news channels, each time searching for some positive change, hoping to see at least a light at the end of the tunnel. 

But COVID didn’t do me the favor of disappearing (one can wish, right?). With each day and each week that COVID persisted, it got a bit more difficult to get up in the morning, I felt easily irritated, I often felt anxious. Other people were confronted with far more serious problems such as alcoholism, domestic violence, depression, child abuse, loneliness…. and that doesn’t even mention the families who lost a loved one.

So, what reason do I have to worry or to complain? I’m used to working from home, I’m used to virtual meetings. So, no change on this front. My husband works from home. That’s a big change and extremely cool because he usually travels quite a bit. My family and friends are doing fine. What else can I ask for? I should be grateful and stop whining.

And I did what a lot of people do, I pushed my worries aside. Don’t we all have a bad day or two once in a while? That’s called life, right? It’ll pass! We pull ourselves together and keep on going. Until we don’t.

Life-changing events take their toll because we’re confronted with questions to which we have no answers, yet. We are uncertain about our future, the next step, a decision in business or life… This uncertainty makes itself known in the many ways I described above. Especially if this life-changing event is ongoing and the outcome unknown, the effects can be more pronounced. Consciously or unconsciously, we are dealing with questions, worries, and feelings and appear scatterbrained and unproductive at best, and aggressive and depressed at worst.  

Since such events appear mostly unexpectedly, how can we prepare for them? What can we do to stay as calm and as grounded as possible to better cope with them? How can we keep our balance and prevent extreme reactions and behaviors? 

There is no one solution that fits all. Different people have different needs when it comes to finding their balance. One person may prefer loud music, whereas the other person may need quiet. One person may want to move their body, whereas the other person may need to be still. Here are some activities that I’m doing or not doing right now. Maybe you’ll find them helpful or they’ll inspire you to find your own. Here we go:

  • Taking a break from the news. I usually read the news every morning. I decided to skip this routine for a while to start my day on a more positive note. It worked. (I asked my husband to tell me about important events or developments so that I won’t be completely out of the loop.)
  • Alternatively, you could select news channels that are less sensationalistic in their reporting.
  • Don’t read, watch, or listen to the news before going to bed; a big game changer for me.
  • Exercise of the very sweaty kind. For me it’s Taekwondo. It forces me to focus on forms and technique and by doing so clears my head and gives me a break.
  • Gardening. A new discovery of mine and the perfect kind of work to mull over something.
  • Going for walks, preferably with a friend. It’s up to you what the topic of your conversation will be.
  • Listening to audiobooks. My way of taking my mind off of things and diving into a different world.
  • Alternatively, how about podcasts that are uplifting? Another favorite of mine.
  • In ‘urgent’ situations I try to remember to take three deep breaths. This way I avoid emotional responses that I might regret afterwards.
  • Yoga is a more meditative exercise and part of my daily morning routine.
  • Meditation or a mindfulness practice is also part of my morning routine.
  • At least seven hours of sleep to feel rested. 
  • Catnaps during the day. If I feel exhausted or tired, 20 minutes of shuteye do the trick. I set a timer, but usually wake up before it goes off.
  • Establishing routines. Something I strongly believe in. It gives structure to my day and stability.
  • I journal every day and made it a habit to write down one thing that I’m grateful for. I know, this is an old hat, but if I feel down, steering my thoughts to one thing I’m grateful for lifts my mood. Try it.  

A word of advice: Keep it simple. If you’d like to add a new activity to your day, don’t set the bar so high that you won’t be able to do it. 5 minutes is all it takes to make a difference. The important part is that you do it regularly

Over to you now. What helps you relax and stay grounded especially in hectic, difficult, and/or stressful times? What is your secret weapon for coping with the big and little challenges in life? Let me know in the comments below. 

See you next time,
Regine 

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