5 Ways to Deal with Uncertainty

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I’ve spent the past year and a half vacillating between moments of anxiety, grief, gratitude, and relief. As I write this, I’m preparing for my girls to go back to school in person full time for the first time since the spring of 2020. I’m so thrilled they will be able to get back to a regular schedule and reunite with their school communities after so long, but I’m also concerned about the health and safety of our kids, teachers, essential workers – the list goes on and on.
dealing with uncertainty

I’ve been doing my best to stay present, stay grateful, and stay sane, but often I look around wondering if there is an adult who can tell me how on earth to navigate all of this uncertainty. Then I remember that I’m the adult, and all I can do is show up and do my best like everyone else. So, today I’m sharing a few simple strategies I’ve been relying on to help deal with the uncertainty we’re all facing.

Take a Break from the News

We all need to stay informed, but being hooked into news updates and social media banter 24/7 can be overstimulating and anxiety provoking to say the least. Decide when, and how often, you want to check in, and then give yourself a break.

Lower the Bar

If you’re feeling harried, pressured, stressed, or overwhelmed, try shifting your expectations and lowering the bar. Slash your to-do list. Consider whether your kids really have to do soccer, gymnastics, and piano (they don’t). Give yourself permission to eat cereal for dinner once in a while. You get my point. Sometimes the best we can do is just get some food on the table and get through the day. Cut yourself some slack and celebrate the little victories.

Focus on what you CAN control

There is so much that we simply can’t control, but there are plenty of things we do have control over – how we show up in the world and treat other people, the foods we choose to put in our body, how we spend our free time, how we care for our home and surroundings. Put energy into the little decisions that you make every day. Those little things can make a big difference in boosting your overall sense of well being.

dealing with uncertainty

Plan Ahead (But stay flexible)

After canceling so many plans, trips, and events last year, it makes sense that we might feel a little resistance when it comes to filling up our schedules again. If you’re feeling nervous about making big plans right now, you’re not alone. We’ve all had to learn the art of the creative pivot (hello, Zoom weddings and birthday parties!), so flexibility is the name of the game here. As a bit of a control enthusiast, I’ve been wondering how to make plans when everything is constantly changing. The best solution I’ve found is to make a flexible plan for about 6-12 months out, and more detailed plans just for the month ahead. This strategy enables you to have things to look forward to in the future without getting overly attached or disappointed when things need to shift. Focus on the results you want to create, but be flexible about the path to get there.

Surrender and Stay Present

As cliche as it sounds, we’re living through unprecedented times. We don’t have a roadmap for any of this. If you find yourself feeling impatient for change, or answers, or for all of this to be over, take a deep breath and try to lean into the uncertainty. We create additional suffering for ourselves when we resist reality. Engage in activities that help center you and cultivate mindfulness. Take a walk, light a candle, cook a beautiful meal, read a book, catch up with an old friend, embrace a daily gratitude practice. Create a toolkit of healthy ways to comfort yourself and stay present.

What about you? Have you found effective strategies to help you navigate through these unpredictable times? I’d love to hear what’s been working for you.

Photography Credit: Vivian Johnson for Shira Gill 

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