Living with Uncertainty
It goes without saying that we are living in uncertain times. Each day we hear new information about the Coronavirus pandemic; new questions arise, new terms are heard and new guidance given. Facing unknowns is challenging; from the moment of birth one basic need is clear – to feel safe and secure. It is a fact that that we are born into a world that is inherently full of insecurity and uncertainty and we spend our lives trying not to feel it. As babies we look for comfort and safety from our caregivers; as adults we seek safety through religion, finding meaning, a sense of purpose and through relationships. When we are confronted with uncertainty, as we are at the moment, it is natural that we feel worried, we ruminate and we feel anxious. Many of us may have an urge to connect with others, yet fear contamination. So what can we do to manage our fear and protect our mental health?
Focus on what you can control
Focusing on what we can’t control often takes our energy and attention away from what we can control. When we occupy ourselves with what we can control we start to regain a sense of mastery over our lives. Try switching your thinking to what you can do; rather than ‘what I would be doing’.
Image by our Senior Support Outreach Worker Hayley
Manage your worries
To solve problems or to get things done, the mind usually works in predicable ways. The mind turns to these same strategies to resolve inner difficulties; to address unhappiness and resolve anxiety. Our mind tries to think its way out of problems; to fix sadness or worry. To do this the mind focuses on the cause of the problem and rumination begins, but rather than make us feel better this dwelling makes us feel worse. Therefore we need to recognise ruminative worry and limit the amount of time we allow our minds to do this. Cognitive behaviour therapy techniques such as ‘worry time’ can be helpful in this.
Image from Pixabay
Find meaning in your day to day life
During times of uncertainty and change it is common that we may find ourselves re-prioritising and questioning our purpose in life. We may find ourselves wanting to feel connected and valued by others and trying to make sense of our experience. When life seems senseless, work on nurturing your relationships, commit to your personal goals, and remind yourself that you have a unique life story.
Image from Pixabay
Avoidance strategies are often used to avoid anxiety and can be any behaviour that has the aim to escape unpleasant thoughts and feelings. The difficulty with this strategy is that in the short-term, they may provide some relief, yet long-term make the situation worse. We may notice an increase in difficult emotions, a cost to relationships and self-esteem. These behaviours; whether smoking, drinking, binge eating, numbing out with YouTube, means that we never get the opportunity to learn that we can tolerate these feelings and that they do pass. Instead try learning physiological self-soothing skills; like slow breathing or giving yourself a comforting touch by placing your palm on your heart.
If you are struggling to manage anxiety and worry; know that this is okay and a lot of people feel the same. Support is still available so consider speaking to your local health provider or your local Mind.
Mindfulness colouring images from Cass Art website
And what about in the workplace?
You may notice that an increase in your employees anxiety. Here are some things to consider:
Can you limit uncertainty?
Involve your staff in decision making where you can.
Communicate clearly and effectively any decisions and changes that are made.
Support staff to create their own structure.
Can you promote positive wellbeing?
Encourage healthy lifestyle habits; eat well, sleep well, relax and exercise.
Recognise the importance of connection – consider how you can bring your team, even if remotely, together.
Come back to your values?
Why are you there? Remind your teams of the unique role they play in other peoples’ lives.
Are there opportunities to create meaning such as volunteering? Small acts of kindness can help give people a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
If you are concerned about your workforce please do contact us for advice and guidance. We are also offering free online wellbeing courses that are available to the residents and workforce in Hertfordshire. The Building Courage course, may be of particular interest at this time as it addresses anxiety.
Posted on: 16th April 2020