Get it Right: Dealing with Uncertainty

It’s no surprise that we are all dealing with uncertainty right now and it’s not easy to navigate. We’re in a very unique situation, but we are all experiencing this together for the first time. Even though we are going through all of these firsts together, it doesn’t help with the uncertainty we are facing. 

Image c/o @janessawait

The fear of the unknown is often the most paralyzing thing we face in our lives. Whether it’s the fear of a new job, a first date, test results, or basically anything you have to wait for, it can take over your entire life. When you’re anticipating something, good or bad, it’s all you can think about and soon every other area of your life starts to suffer. For me, it starts with my sleep. I normally don’t dream much but when I’m dealing with uncertainty or some level of fear, my dreams become so vivid I feel like I never got any sleep. You may see you eating habits change too, maybe you start to eat more or less, and then you stop making things you enjoy a priority. You basically lose all sense of control over areas of your life and fixate on the area of your worries.

Well from my personal experience that is the least healthy thing to do. When fear or uncertainty threatens to take over your life, that’s when you need to remain focused on balance. I can say I did not focus on balance during the early days of quarantine and it took me a while to realize what was going on. The news of covid-19 becoming a reality in North America happened very quickly which didn’t allow me – or anyone – to process what was happening and to mentally prepare for any level of change. I quickly lost my routine of going to bed at a consistent time and found my sleep all over the place. Next came food, which let’s be honest, is one of life’s greatest pleasures but it quickly became my greatest pleasure while dealing with the unknown. I found comfort in enjoying food, not getting up early to commute and not making movement a priority. To be honest, I found comfort in reverting back to being a child without the responsibilities I had been living with for decades. In reality though, I had even more responsibility. Going through the uncertainty of covid-19 and quarantine as an individual was a lot, but also being a boss and business owner was another layer of responsibility I was not prepared for.

After the first few weeks came and went, it became clear we weren’t going to be going back to ‘normal’ anytime soon and so I had to face the uncertainty of life head on. I realized nothing was going to change, unless I changed. That I had the control to handle what I could, focus on my energy and effort, and prepare for what I know and trust in my ability to react as we progressed. As I write this, I realize how easy that sounds, but I know, it is far from easy. The reality is, dealing with uncertainty is never easy, but if you can prepare yourself a checklist or ‘kit’ to handle uncertainty when it comes, you will find yourself more balanced and prepared for the journey.

Whether you’re facing uncertainty now – which we are even though we have been in this place for months now, we still don’t know where we are going – or facing it later, here are a few things to do to better deal with uncertainty.

  • Acknowledge the uncertainty you’re facing. Recognizing it is a huge step in right direction into handling things with peace of mind. Note what you’re feeling; is it fear, sadness, anxiety, etc. Try to give space and attention to each emotion you’re feeling so you can continue to move forward through the feelings.

  • Prioritize things that bring you joy in life – whether that is movement, meditation, a hobby, going for a walk, etc. These small things can be the highlight of your day when uncertainty weighs heavy on your life.

  • Prepare for what you can – in whatever way you can. That may be proactively doing groceries so you don’t have to leave your house as often. It could be rehearsing interview questions with a friend or partner. Trying on looks for that first date and feeling comfortable in what you’re wearing and in your own skin. It can be as simple as visualizing yourself experiencing a situation or conversation.

  • Exhale and let go. This one is one you will repeat over and over. When the anxiety and fear of the unknown continues to creep up the most important thing to do is exhale.

Again, these small efforts seem simple but when you are facing the unknown they can become bigger challenges. Start each day fresh and focus on each area, be kind to yourself when you slip into negative thinking or if you stop prioritizing simple joys and most importantly breathe – remember you are never alone. Reach out to friends and family, share what you’re experiencing and feeling - they likely are feeling the same as you and you can find support from one another. You have the ability to face uncertainty and move through it in a healthy and positive way.