Much has been written about the discomfort of uncertainty accompanied by its worry, stress and anxiety and it’s effects on so many areas of our lives.
For most of us worldwide our lives feel like we are stuck on pause, waiting to return to the illusion of the predictable and the freedom to move about and make plans.
It can feel like we are in quarantine, even if not officially, with challenges at every turn personally and relation-ally. Being alone together is stressful. Navigating the bumpy terrain of closeness and distance, needs and expectations, can be a strain. All the more so with children at home demanding engagement plus space constraints. Add the demands of working at home, social isolation and the ever present fear of a viral infection can exhaust our personal strengths.
Feeling emotionally overwhelmed, tempers are likely to flare easily, it’s consequences lingering, often painfully. Focusing on fearful thoughts can interfere with our ability to relax into the present moment and enjoy even the simple pleasure of a cup of coffee.
With so much uncertainty coping effectively can plummet, with little sense of control and no end in sight.
Although it may have felt that way, your future, through today, was never as predictable as you may have assumed. Instead it is the product of complex causes and conditions, and the often unrecognized power of serendipity – “the potential for random and unexpected events to wreck even the best laid plans.”
The one place uncertainty does not exist is in the present moment. Step into it. Scan your body for sources of stress and pain. Breath slowly into each such area and simply recognize and allow each experience of discomfort to communicate its needs to you. The body keeps the score. Maintain a curious, open mind as you do this exercise, “that’s interesting”. Lying on your back while propping your feet up against the wall for 5 min. as you do this is particularly calming.
Flexibility is a key here. Flexibility can aid in cushioning the impact of the unexpected by expecting the unexpected as much as possible, controlling what you can while appreciating all can continue to change rapidly. That is the value of having plans B, C & D. Just in case plan A gets sideswiped by the unexpected.
Reflect back on this time when so many of your cherished freedoms were curtailed by the virus. Reflect back on how you used your time during the lockup?
Do you feel a sense of satisfaction that you used your free time well, or did you while away the hours watching Netflix and reading far too much news?
There is a difference between being busy and being productive. A sense of accomplishment accompanies being productive, and it pays dividends going forward.
If you felt some regret when you looked back, then consider how to focus some of your current time now in ways that honor your interests and abilities and give you a sense of accomplishment when you reflect back from your future now to today.
In the midst of so many physical, financial and psychological threats, give yourself the gift of presents of mind, focus on what you can change, and deeply enjoy your coffee.
Dr Melanie Bryan
13 April 2020