We aren’t going to sugar coat it here, uncertainty is hard. With COVID-19 and the current state of affairs, there’s an immense amount of uncertainty that we’re grappling with, too. We’re asking ourselves, “What next?” or “Where do I go from here?”
The reality of today is hard to grasp, especially for those that tend to gravitate towards black and white thinking. In fact, many of us are this way amidst a crisis. We want clear answers for comfort, some way to feel like we are in control of what’s coming next. We want to feel as though we’re in control of our future.
But, that’s not possible right now. Everything is grey, and try as we might to find the black and white to hold tight to, it’s of no avail. No one knows what’s coming next right now, all we can do is our best in planning ahead and trying to be prepared.
The truth is, a lot of us are struggling with the unknown. Anxieties around the future aren’t just normal, they’re extremely common. In fact, one study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that a whopping 45% of Americans feel that their mental health has been negatively affected by this pandemic.
At this point you may be thinking, “If I don’t have control over the future, how do I cope with all of this uncertainty?” Well, have no fear! We have a few tips that will help anyone struggling make it through this difficult period of the unknown.
So, without further ado, here are six tips to help you deal with uncertainty.
Make Self-Care a Priority
As our Associate Clinical Director, Bryan Cantwell, so elegantly put it, self-care is a taboo topic that often gets talked about, but no one really knows what it means. So, to clear up the muddy waters, we’re going to try our best to spell it out.
Self-care means doing the things that fill your cup, so to speak. Things that make you feel good and recharge your batteries so that you’re able to bring your best self into each day. It’s something that’s absolutely critical in protecting and restoring your mental health.
But, self-care looks different for everyone. Some of us find joy in things that others would consider mundane, and that’s perfectly okay. When it comes to taking care of yourself, you have to do what’s right for you. It’s not about anyone else, that’s why it’s called self-care.
While the basics of it are making sure you’re getting enough sleep and eating well, there’s a little more to it than that. For self-care novices, here are a few things you can explore in your journey to a happier, healthier you.
Houseplants, Landscaping, or Gardening
Baking or Cooking
Expand Your Knowledgebase
Learn a New Skill Set
Drawing or Painting
Looking for more self-care opportunities to explore? Check out the article: Social Distancing, A Time for Self-Discovery
Focus on What You Can Control
When everything in your life feels like it’s out control, it’s time to make a conscious effort to focus on what you can control in your world. And, while that may seem like a tall order right now with this pandemic and all, there is one thing that’s in our control, and that’s ourselves.
We can always control our behavior and how we react to others. Make a focused effort to practice kindness and grace with yourself and those around you. These actions will help us all to weather this storm together and come out stronger people.
If you’re someone that struggles with your emotions or practicing kindness towards yourself and others, you could try mastering the art of mindfulness. Mindfulness is all about acknowledging your emotions, accepting them, and learning how to experience them without becoming them.
For more information on mindfulness, check out the article: Getting Started with Mindfulness
Journal Your Thoughts and Fears
There is something incredibly therapeutic about writing down our thoughts, emotions, and telling our story, even if we’re the only one reading it. Not only does journaling help with managing stress, reducing anxiety, and coping with depression, it can also help you to take an objective look at your own mental health. By going back and reading your journal entries, you can explore what your triggers are and track the natural ebb and flow of your psyche.
So, what are you waiting for? Start a Word document or go out and get a fancy pen and notebook so that you can get to journaling today!
When life’s uncertainty makes us feel scared or even hopeless, it’s easy to find ourselves getting into a negative rut. We create a gloomy schema that we ruminate on, pushing us further and further into a negative space. But, this is the wrong way. When we do this, we are never able to dig ourselves out of the trenches of that dark thinking.
So, if you’re struggling, try taking five minutes out of your day to make a list of all the things you’re grateful for at the moment. By doing this, you can force yourself out of that negative frame and realign your energy to the positive. And, by making this a habit, you can retrain your brain to naturally focus on good vibes.
Move Through Your Emotions
In order to heal, you have to acknowledge your difficult emotions and work through them. So, for all of you avoiders out there, I hate to say it, but there’s no running from this one. I mean, come on, there’s really nowhere to go.
So, to make it through this, you’re going to have to figure out a way to live with it, acknowledge your fears, and then face them head on! We know it’s scary, but it’s the only way to weather this storm.
At some point, you will have to face your fears, whether it be to return to work, grappling with anxieties about being in public again, or whatever else they are. Just know, you’re brave! You’ll get through this and be a stronger person because of it!
For more information on facing your fears, check out the article: Help for Anxiety: Facing Your Fears Will Heal Your Brain
Visualize Your Best Future
Are you a catastrophic thinker? It’s a common thinking error that many of us fall victim to. When faced with uncertainty, we immediately go to the worst-case scenario. Are you fretting about losing your job? How about you or someone you love dying? Or, maybe you’re worried that the world is going to come tumbling to a dramatic end?
There’s something to be said about avoiding “Pollyanna thinking” and being a realist. But come on, really? What’s the likelihood of the worst-case scenario happening? Check your numbers, check your facts, and objectively look at the probabilities of catastrophe.
The next time uncertainty has you stuck in negative future tripping, try envisioning the best possible case scenario. The truth is, good things can come out of challenging times. We grow, become stronger, and our lives are often realigned towards a positive future that wouldn’t have otherwise arisen without the difficult period we’re forced to fight through.
Are you looking for more content to guide you on your path to a happy, healthy life? Check out the rest of our blog and don’t forget to follow us on social media. We can be found at youthdynamicsmt on Instagram, or People of Youth Dynamics and Youth Dynamics of Montana on Facebook.