One of the hardest parts about the pandemic is dealing with this level of uncertainty. At the beginning, everyone understood that we had to simply shelter in place to plank the curve. We didn’t know how long that phase would go on but the directions were clear. As the province re-opens and people are out there more and more, this has caused increased anxiety for a number of folks. In addition to the worry about increasing numbers, everyone wants to know the plan come September. Not knowing makes us feel out of control and like we have a problem. I have worked with many people who face uncertainty and here are some tips to deal with it:
- Don’t look to far ahead: Trying to figure out several months from now during a pandemic is not going to give you comfort. Stay as close to the present moment as possible. When your thoughts go to the future, bring it back by taking a few deep breaths to ground yourself.
- Keep a lid on worrying: Worrying is natural but if we let our mind do what it wants, it will spend a whole lot of time on worrying. Excessive worry can lead to many issues including increased stress and tension. Use distraction to shift your thoughts from worries. Watch a funny show, call a friend, take a walk in nature.
- We are in it together: Remembering that we are in this pandemic together can be a very helpful thought. It helps us to know that we are not alone and that others are feeling exactly the same as us. This thought won’t come to you easily but you can call it up during a difficult moment when you are overwhelmed.
- Self-care: Engaging in self-care activities will help manage the stress associated with uncertainty. If you are strapped for time because you are working from home and parenting 24/7, think about doing small things but consistently. Some helpful self-care activities include walking, meditation and drinking water.
- Gratitude: It might not feel like you have much to be grateful for during a pandemic and there are many people who have experienced significant loss. Anytime you can bring up something, even one small thing to be grateful for, it can help with coping. Think about one thing you are grateful for at the end of the day or first thing in the morning. You can also use a gratitude journal to keep you on track.
The most important take home message is to remember that uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. We think we have control but we actually don’t have any. All we can control is how we think about things and what we do about it. We will get through this!