How to manage in times of uncertainty.
Humans are creatures of habit. We like to know what’s happening, expect to control the outcome, and plan our lives accordingly. So when an atypical event disturbs the world order, we are largely unprepared to manage in times of uncertainty and deal with life-altering chaos.
Man’s Ability to Adapt & Change
Throughout history, all cultures had to face uncertainty. Accidents, illness, death, erratic environments, unpredictable food sources, threats from rivals were everyday possibilities. Man survived because of his ability to adapt to new situations and change his mindset and behaviours accordingly. We were made to adapt and thrive, even in isolation. But we do have to be mindful of how we do it.
The Psychological Risks of Uncertainty
Change is uncomfortable, but disruption to social order such as what we’ve experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic was unimaginable to most of us (survivalists excluded). The world as we know it has changed, and we have no idea what it’s going to look like. Loss of jobs, financial insecurity, death of loved ones, isolation, dealing with a new normal and the uncertainty of what’s to come are all stressors each of us is facing daily. And it can negatively impact our mental and physical health if we don’t know how to cope effectively (and especially for those already struggling with a mental health issue).
Many people are reaching for quick, fun fixes to escape the isolation, which can be a pleasant diversion for a little while but can lead to substance abuse, overeating, online gambling, and excessive mind-numbing via tv, internet and video games. The problem is that relying on these short fixes for too long and ignoring your mental wellbeing could increase your risk of developing depression, anxiety, or addictions.
Fear comes from uncertainty; we can eliminate the fear within us when we know ourselves better. – Bruce Lee
Quick Ways to Cope with Isolation
Whether you’re stuck at home or on the frontline, there are quick and healthy ways to cope with the uncertainty that change brings during a crisis. If the thought is overwhelming, just pick one and give a try:
- Exercise. Since team sports are out for a while, try a live-streamed video with a pal.
- Learn. Always wanted to learn guitar? Learn a new skill or take up a relaxing hobby.
- Keep connected. Video-chat with friends & family.
- Take time. Take time out for yourself.
- Limit exposure. Limiting your time on news and social media sites.
- Go outside. Take a walk for sun and fresh air (if you can).
- Get help. Learn to strengthen your mental agility by setting up an online counselling session.
The Benefits of Change
Just as a global crisis is an opportunity for the world to transform and create a better version of itself, so can you. If you understand and recognize patterns in yourself in how you react to stress, you can intentionally reset. Surviving chaos presents the opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves. We can’t predict or control the future. But we can work with a counsellor to learn methods to cope with uncertainty and embrace growth opportunities by considering how we can actively adapt, lead, and help others.