How do you deal with uncertainty?
Why is COVID-19 so different from the other members of the Coronavirus family (e.g. MERS, SARS)? Because the rapid rate in which it has invaded our lives across the globe is unprecedented. As a result, we do what we know best: self-preserve.
The upside of self-preservation is that we start to think of what matters most to us, like family and loved ones, instead of work emails and chores. But the downside leads us to bulk purchase toilet paper and spread false information on social media. In essence, fear gets the best of us.
Somewhere in between the upside and downside is a large grey area called uncertainty. And most of us don't deal with it well. We need concrete information and we needed it yesterday. When will the virus go away? When will the vaccine be distributed? When can my kids go back to school? Uncertainty plays tricks on us. We lose our footing and our mental well-being takes a hit.
So, how do you deal with uncertainty? 1. Mindset. 2. (New) Routines. These are just two of the suggestions I offer that have worked well for my clients and is proven in phsycology research.
1. Mindset matters. When we cave into fear and hysteria, our thoughts spiral out of control. The downside of self-preservation kicks in, when we should rather, kick it to the curb. One way to redirect your mindset is to be present in the moment. Redirect your breathing to slower, more fuller inhales and exhales. Slow breaths is the key. You'be be surprised at how calming the breath can calm the mind.
Another way to redirect your mindset is to focus on what's in your control. Will the stock market crash? How long will the economic recession last? Will I be laid off? While relevant as they are, they are also out of our control. Focus on what you can control: your mood. Because that impacts everyone around you. Also, know that we're all in this together. One choice I've made as a result of the pandemic is to wake up happy. That's right: How you choose to wake up matters. It will determine how you face and process the day. The upside, those around you will love you better.
2. Routines matter. Our daily routines have certainly been disrupted. I know mine have. Routines are extremely important to feel grounded. And, you guessed it, routines are in our control. Instead of my 5am phone calls with clients in the East Coast, I now spend more time brewing my favorite coffee, meditating longer and doing breath work. For instance, I sit straight up on a chair and take a deep, slow inhale through the nose for a count of 5 seconds, hold it in for 5 seconds and release slowly through the mounth. I repeat this 5 times. My mind is more relaxed and I feel better about tackling the day.
If you already have routines, that's great! Consider new ones to change things up or augment your current regimine. In addition, take the time to jointly create routines with the whole family. Giving family members a voice and a say means that you value their input. You'll also be surprised at how creative your family can get!
Above all, from a historial perspective, let's remind ourselves that humanity has seen far worse in its lifetime. And from a global perspective, this pandemic is hurting everyone around the world. Everyone. So, you're not alone. How you handle this will serve as a powerful lesson for your family and loves ones. Lessons that will show you how resilient you really are.