5 Tips For Surviving These Uncertain Times
With all of the fear and unknowns around the spread of Coronavirus all over the world and now in Saskatchewan, the drastic measures being taken to try to contain and stop it, the stock market crashing, oil prices plummeting, and the effect all of this is having on our economy, uncertainty seems to be everywhere right now. And it has a lot of people on edge.
Uncertainty causes stress. It makes us feel like everything is out of control and has us feeling vulnerable and fearful. Uncertainty breeds worry, anxiety and sometimes panic.
Here are 5 things I recommend to help you and your family through these uncertain times.
1. Focus On What You Can Control.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that are out of our control at the moment. However, if you shift your focus to those things that you can control, it will help you to feel less vulnerable.
In terms of the Coronavirus, you can control things like being vigilant about hand washing, cleaning surfaces, door handles, etc., and staying out of large crowds. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms and what to do if you think you or a family member has been infected.
Maintaining or establishing routines is helpful to decrease the sense of uncertainty and create a sense of normalcy or calm. Keeping meal times, bedtimes, etc. consistent is something you can control.
Talk with your loved ones, especially your children, and reassure one another that you’re not alone and you will get through this. Tell your people that you love them. Not only are these words comforting to say…they are comforting to hear. And it reminds us we are not alone.
2. Manage Your Thoughts
Uncertainty often makes us imagine worst case scenarios. We dwell on all of the negatives and the ‘What If’s’ and it’s very easy for us to scare the hell out of ourselves. People who are ‘worriers’ or those prone to anxiety and/depression may easily become overwhelmed in times of uncertainty due to ruminating and catastrophizing thoughts.
So be aware of the messages that you are telling yourself. If your thoughts are swirling out of control recognize what’s going on. Negative thoughts can very easily initiate the Stress Response (Fight or Flight) which causes or heightens stress, anxiety, panic or unease…and take measures to calm yourself.
Something as simple as repeating the phrase ‘I’m going to be okay’ or saying the word ‘relax’ can be very helpful to re-establish a sense of calm.
Deep breathing can turn off the Stress Response in 6 – 10 seconds. Breath deeply in through your nose, hold your breath for a second or two, and exhale through your mouth. Repeat 3 – 5 times. I recommend that you practice deep breathing throughout the day, everyday…not only when you’re stressed.
3. Limit Your Exposure To The News.
I am certainly not saying you shouldn’t keep yourself up to date…but compulsively checking the news over and over again will only get you wound up.
Get your information from trusted and proven sources so that you know it’s accurate. Be wary of what you’re reading on Social Media. A lot of well-meaning people are sharing information that is ill-informed and/or not accurate, and that just adds to the uncertainty.
Avoid checking the news right before bed. When you’re tired at the end of the day, bad news can make you feel vulnerable and may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
4. Make Self Care A Priority
Self care is important all of the time, but even more so during uncertain times. Be thoughtful about what you’re eating, try to include fruit and vegetables. Take a multi-vitamin or vitamin C. Exercise. Get plenty of rest and good quality sleep. And be proactive in terms of your stress management. As mentioned earlier, deep breathing is a wonderful stress reliever. Meditation, yoga, and positive affirmations are also helpful.
5. Be Gentle With Yourself.
Realize that it may take time for things to level out and return to some sort of normalcy. Be patient with yourself. Don’t expect to always feel that you’ve got everything under control. Just do the best you can.
Keep in touch with the people who love you. Given the recommendation for social distancing, take advantage of Facetime or phone calls to keep in touch with people. This will help you to realize that you’re not alone.
We’re all in this together. Let’s try to calm the uncertainty for ourselves and each other. Please don’t forget that we are here for you if you need us.
Cheers to better days ahead!