Keeping your ground in times of uncertainty
Uncertainty exists when we are concerned about future events, whether it’s around relationships, work, finances, family and health or recent world events. There will always be some uncertainty in your life. The important thing is to keep your ground, to not allow the uncertainty to manifest and take you down a spiral of stress, anxiety, and fear.
In the last two years particularly, we have all had to adjust and succumb to living with greater uncertainty. Uncertainty and worry about the future and how life may look a month, six months, or a year from now. But the thing is, you cannot predict how things are going to look in your life and there will always be some form on uncertainty. Just like there will always be situations and world events that you cannot control.
How you respond to uncertainty, is the key. It requires the right mindset be able to continue to move forward in life and not allow events and circumstances that you cannot control to overtake you’re mental wellbeing.
To live your best life, focusing on the things that you can control, rather than worrying about the things you cannot. I know, if only it was that easy!
It’s about prioritising your wellbeing, building your resilience so that you can cope better with the challenges that life throws your way. Having access and using the right tools that you can turn to when you begin to feel the effect of uncertainty on your wellbeing. Picking up the phone and talking to a friend. Or simply turning off the television.
Accepting that we all have different tolerances
The wonderful thing about this world is it is made up of such diversity. We are all unique in our own way, dealing with our personal challenges the best way we can. Which means we are all unique in our level of tolerance in dealing with the uncertainties in life.
There are those who thrive on uncertainty. They appear to ‘live by the seat of their pants!’ They never seem to be phased by the unknown and continue to move forward in life, seeming to make decisions without any fear.
But there are also others who find living with any ounce of uncertainty to be incredibly overwhelming to them. Certainty makes us feel safe and in control. When this is taken away then, anxiety and stress and fear can takeover. Spending prolonged periods of time living with these emotions is not good for your nervous system or your long-term health.
Letting go of what you cannot control
Fear is an emotion triggered from uncertainty, it can leave you feeling helpless, anxious, and insecure, which can lead to panic and overwhelm.
During the height of the pandemic every day we were fed with news that triggered many uncertainties. Some rational, some perhaps not so rational, (remember the toilet paper panic!) But for many people in our families and communities, this panic was very real to them. It created a lot of uncertainty around how life is going to look. Their life, and all that they knew felt threatened.
The news and social media were bombarding us with headlines that triggered a lot of fear and sadly division within our society.
The first step in dealing with your uncertainties is acceptance that they exist and to identify their triggers. It is often the fear of the unknown.
Our minds are very powerful, if you’re not careful your thoughts will lead you to look at the worse-case scenario. It’s very easy to get caught in the cycle of ‘what if.’
What if it doesn’t work?
What if they say no?
Am I good enough?
Will they judge me?
Fear can make you freeze and stop you moving forward in life.
When you get caught in these cycles of thoughts, stop for a moment, and ask yourself these questions…
- How likely will this happen?
- Has this ever happened before?
- Is it true? A rational thought?
- If it did happen, I am strong enough to deal with it?
- What can I do right now to ease this feeling and situation?
There are mindfulness and meditation practices that specifically require you to observe your thoughts to understand the patterns of your mind.
Allow yourself to feel the uncertainty
When you identify and acknowledge that fear of uncertainty exists, you can observe this emotion to begin to understand why it is here.
Allow yourself to experience the discomfort of the uncertainty. Like all emotions, giving yourself permission to feel and befriend the emotion, eventually you will let it go. The next time it appears, you have a better understanding of where it comes from and what to expect. I’ve heard of many people who give an unwanted reoccurring emotion a name. I listened to the author Liz Gilbert describe her fears as someone who was riding along with her in a car journey…
It went something like this… “Hello old friend! Here you are again. You can be here for this journey, but you’re not allowed an opinion and you’re not allowed to interfere.”
A fresh and effective approach to feeling an unwanted emotion.
The importance of building resilience
Prioritising your own wellbeing and developing a coping mechanism to deal with any pressures and uncertainties in your life is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your own wellness. This is sometimes referred to as developing resilience.
You cannot control what is happening in the world around you. Yet, to live in this stressful modern world, you need to learn to develop and build resilience so that you are prepared when difficult situations arise. The challenges will always be there; the key is how you interact and respond to them.
Ways to manage your wellbeing
You may be a person who is more inclined to express your emotions through creativity, music, or journaling. Journaling is a wonderful way to express how you feel. Getting what’s in your mind out onto paper, referring back to your thoughts and noticing any patterns. This can be your biggest teacher. For many people it becomes an effective daily ritual.
However, you may prefer ways that are more soothing like being in nature. Even for just 10 minutes a day, tuning into all the different senses around you, takes you out of your head and brings you into the present moment. Feeling the ground beneath your feet can be extremely calming and incredibly grounding.
One of the most effective things to do is Turn off the television. Unplug from social media. Instead start a conversation, call a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while or pick up a book. Especially before you go to bed. Give yourself a hour to wind-down from all technology before sleep.
Yoga and meditation practices are the perfect tools to build resilience and improve your health and well-being. The wonderful thing about Yoga and Meditation is that the practices are accessible to everyone. Moving your body boosts your mood, reduces stress, and will help to increase your focus.
Taking just five minutes from your day to connect with your breath will bring you out of the stress response and bring you back to balance. Learning to connect with the breath is one, if not THE most powerful practices you can ever master.
Here’s a short meditation practice that uses the breath as an anchor to calm the mind and emotions.
It’s taken me a while, but I’ve learnt to let go of looking too far ahead. Instead, I try to focus on the things in my life in the more immediate future. It can be very hard to not get caught up in what is happening in the world, but the tools I’ve mentioned in this article are the things I turn to as my support mechanism. I schedule my day and week to allow time to do the things that nourish my soul and help to manage my resilience, they are my coping mechanisms. Being in nature, time for myself to reflect and of course my daily yoga, pranayama, and meditation practice.
It is my wish that you find the tools that work for you to help keep you grounded in these times on uncertainty. If you liked this blog, you may also like to read 5 Pillars of Wellness – the secret to living a balanced, healthy life.