Written By: Cyndi Jones
You don’t need permission to say, “I’m not doing that great.” Sometimes we think we have to have it all together, put on a good show, or put on a ‘brave face’. However, we are living in a world of uncertainty. We have never been able to predict the future, but now, more than ever there are so many uncertainties with no real answers in sight. So, don’t be surprised if you feel like you don’t have it all together.
Let’s explore some ways that may help you deal with the changes and ambiguity that seems to be making so many things difficult.
I’m a big believer in self care, so first you need to cater to your basic needs. When we’re stressed, we forget about doing things that nourish our body like getting enough sleep. It may sound silly, but a good night's sleep truly does help reset the mind and body. Research from a AAA study shows how deadly it can be to drive when you’re tired. The study found drivers who miss two to three hours of sleep a day more than quadruple their risk of getting in a crash.* This means that our brain is not functioning at full capacity and we are not at our best. We also need to eat healthy, get a little exercise and stay connected with family and friends. These are just a few ways to help fulfill our basic needs.
Learn to accept things as they are. Recognise that although things are not how you wanted them to be or expected them to be, this has been a very difficult year and it’s ok to not be totally ok. Give yourself some credit and say, “I’m doing as well as I can be doing for now.” That doesn’t mean that you can’t work towards change or improvement. It does mean that some things are out of your control and you need to deal with those feelings as a result. “Give yourself permission to say, ‘I’m not doing well right now’ or ‘I’m doing as good as I can be right now.’ This will validate your feelings, and then you can deal with how you feel instead of working against that and trying to convince yourself to feel differently,” says Michele Ford, PhD., a professor of psychology at Dickinson College. This will help you set more realistic expectations, for the time being, and take action over the things that are in your control.
Nobody can predict the future. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. So, stay in the present. Make a decision to remain in the present. It will take effort and commitment, but when you wake up, decide that you will enjoy the day and make the most of what you have. Maybe set a timer on your phone to remind you during the day to come back to the present and make sure you are conscious of your thoughts and keep positive thoughts about the here and now.
When we are stressed or filled with uncertainty, our brain tries to rescue us by sending us a dopamine rush which encourages us to seek rewards. When we rush to seek rewards, we often find tempting things more tempting.We look for comfort and compensate with unhealthy choices like having an extra glass of wine rather than going to sleep. Maybe you go online shopping and actually buy all the items in your cart - oh my! Instead, find healthy comfort items. Create a list of things that you enjoy that give you comfort. When you’re stressed or feeling uncertain and restless, pull out your list and enjoy a healthy comfort item. I can’t tell you what your comfort items are, maybe it’s talking to a friend, watching a funny movie or video, listening to your favorite song, maybe taking a nap is comforting for you. These comfort items may be small, but they help us center ourselves and get back to who we want to be.
John Allen Paulos, a mathematician said, “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” While John may not have been wrong, it doesn’t mean we have to stress over the unknown. Remember, it’s okay to not always be ok. Make a commitment to make today a better day and move forward.