7 Tips for Dealing With Uncertainty
Article by Blush Life Coaching
If this year has taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty is a b—-.
Although we may see the light at the end of the tunnel now that vaccines are accessible to many, it’s going to take a while to shake off the trauma of 2020. Between our health and safety being under threat, changing restrictions, simply not knowing when our normal lives would resume, uncertainty flooded our every waking moment.
But this is not the only time in our lives that we will face uncertainty. The past year has been unique because uncertainty plagued all of us; typically, uncertainty strikes different people at different times.
The following tips on coping with uncertainty will help you through the final stretches of the pandemic, but also in years to come.
1. Uncertainty Is Never Permanent
Put another way, uncertainty is always temporary. No matter what you’re going through, the crisis will pass. At some point, your life will return to normal. You may not know exactly when that will happen, but it’s comforting to know that it will happen. Hold on to the knowledge that the stress and anxiety have expiration dates, regardless of how acute they feel today.
2. Predictability = Safety + Security
In order to feel like we are in control, we need two things: safety and security. In the absence of either one, our lives may feel like they’re spiraling. That is why 2020 felt so chaotic and traumatic for so many. Our daily routines and coping mechanisms were stripped away, and without our typical fallbacks, we felt insecure. For obvious reasons, many of us did not feel safe all year.
So whenever you feel out of control and unable to see what’s next, try to ground yourself through safety and security. Create a routine and stick to it. Focus on things that are inside of your control instead of depending on others to follow through. Taking these steps can restore a sense of predictability and control to your life.
3. Hold Space for Negative Emotions
PSA: It is absolutely okay to not be okay. Sometimes, it’s absolutely necessary to not feel okay.
Our culture has a toxic positivity problem. We love to airbrush over troubled times and pretend that everything is peachy keen, even as the world is crumbling around us. Thanks, Instagram!
Combat this urge to gloss over the ugly emotions by embracing them. Give them a name. Understand them. Ask them to come inside and offer them a warm beverage and a salty snack. Welcome them with curiosity and compassion. Once you get to know them, release them back to where they came from.
Trying to sweep negative emotions under the rug only gives them more power. They exist, and they’re not going anywhere until you acknowledge them and, sometimes, give them a voice.
This doesn’t mean you have to be consumed by your negative feelings. In fact, holding space for negative emotions means just the opposite. It means giving your negative feelings a time and a place to be heard so they don’t hang over the rest of your day like a dark cloud. It’s easier to bounce back once you acknowledge your negative emotions because you can make room for other positive emotions more easily.
Get comfortable with the icky feelings you’re actively trying to push away. The sooner you make space for them, the sooner they’ll pass.
4. Accept Your Reality
When we’re dealing with acute uncertainty, we tend to wish for easier times. But we can’t change our realities through our imaginations alone. When the dissonance between what we wish and what is real comes to a head, we end up feeling depressed and despondent.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Instead, accept the reality of the situation you’re in and adapt to it. If you force a false narrative on yourself, you’ll spin your wheels until you are forced to surrender. Instead, get creative within your reality.
For example, plenty of 2020 brides eloped instead of having the 200-person gala, and they ended up loving their intimate moments. Zoom happy hours replaced restaurant happy hours. Romantic restaurants with all of the fixings popped up in living rooms everywhere. Those who made the best of what they had were the ones who quickly accepted the new norm and adjusted to it. The quicker you can accept your reality and abandon your fantasies, the easier dealing with the real world will be.
5. Simplify Your Life
“Michael always says, ‘K-I-S-S. Keep it simple, stupid.’ Great advice. Hurts my feelings every time.” – Dwight Schrute
Take it from The Office‘s Michael Scott: If you overwhelm yourself with the complexities of life during a time of uncertainty, you’re just piling it on yourself for absolutely no reason.
Go back to the basics. What do you need to accomplish today? You probably need to get out of bed, feed yourself, clean yourself, clothe yourself, do your job (whatever that entails), take time for yourself, connect with others, and sleep. Don’t try to make life any more difficult than it already is.
When we’re in survival mode, we need the basics to anchor us. We should prioritize the things we need to do and the things we like to do during times of crisis. The rest can wait until things stabilize. If you are pressuring yourself to do more than is necessary, you’re only adding additional chaos to an already delicate situation.
Go easy on yourself. Keep it simple. There will be a time in the future when things will go back to normal, and you can be your complicated, overachieving, hard-working self. I promise.
6. Set Yourself Up for Success
Humans love progression. We like feeling in control of our situations, and we like seeing growth happen before our eyes. One of the easiest ways to feel better about yourself during times of acute uncertainty is to create small actionable goals for yourself to cross off a list.
Seriously, the smaller, the better. Think: taking your supplements, drinking a certain amount of water per day, walking X amount of steps, cleaning your room, even taking a shower. It all counts.
Each and every time you achieve one of your small goals, celebrate. Give yourself a pat on the back for surviving during one of the harder times of your life. We don’t give ourselves enough credit most days, and in times of uncertainty, we could use all the self-confidence we can get. Be sure to show up for yourself by keeping the small promises you’re making and celebrating when you’ve followed through.
7. Practice Self-Care
Self-care can be defined as anything you do to rest, reset, or reflect. At its best, self-care is used to refill your cup. We all need to nourish ourselves, and the best and fastest way to do this is to engage in self-care.
However, self-care is typically the first thing that goes out the window during times of crisis. We decide we have to focus on everything else — our jobs, finances, families, and friends. However, if we don’t care for ourselves first, the rest of these will inevitably suffer.
It may feel impossible, but you must carve out time for yourself. If you neglect yourself, you won’t be able to show up as your full self when times are tough. Replenish your energy and invest in your own happiness and relaxation. You’ll see the benefits rather quickly if you stay consistent.
To everyone feeling especially stressed by a grueling year, I’m with you. I hope these tips bring you some comfort and relief from the chronic pressure you’ve been experiencing.
Remember, uncertainty is never permanent. This will pass. In the meantime, these tips will help you cope until you are back in your natural routines and rhythms.
A version of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com.
Blush Life Coaching is an online life coaching company for people across the globe. With Blush, clients can interact with their professional life coach via video chat or journaling to discuss topics ranging from career advancement to self-confidence, time and stress management, relationships, entrepreneurship, and more.