Remember when things were normal? Maybe you wish you hadn‘t taken small things for granted?
You‘re not alone. Everyone is experiencing something similar: a sense of loss, of helplessness, of ‘what do I do now?‘
However. Helpless doesn‘t mean hopeless, and the reality is that we are neither. Here are some ways to arm wrestle the bogeyman of fear and uncertainty into submission.
Anticipate the good stuff
There‘s a reason why you keep thinking back to the past – it keeps your focus away from the future. And for some that future currently resembles a dystopian hell. The economy might collapse. You might lose your job. There are protests all over the world. People might get hurt.
It‘s important to recognise this for what it is. Anticipation. Normally you reserve your anticipation for fun things like holidays, and instead it‘s now full of worst-case scenarios. But that‘s all that they are.
When those images surface, match them with positive ones. Finding this balance in your thoughts is an important and powerful thing to do. Anticipation is a real gift – don‘t let it be hijacked.
The present is a gift
Take a deep breath and bring your thoughts back to the here and now. Take a good look around you – there‘s your lava lamp. There‘s that ‘hilarious‘ mug your colleague got you. There‘s that loose tile you still haven‘t got around to fixing.
You‘re in the present and that future that you‘re imagining – bad or good – hasn‘t happened yet, and maybe it won‘t. But right here, right now, you are safe. And most importantly, you‘re in control of your world.
Don’t fight what you can’t control
You can‘t stop people from spreading negativity and fear. You can‘t stop joggers from swerving all over the pavement like they own it. But you can avoid negative people and limit your news intake. Or cross the road to avoid the jogger.
Getting upset about the things outside your control is a no-win situation. If you have a problem and get angry about it, you‘ve then got two problems. Instead, let that negativity whizz by you.
Find acceptance – and meaning
There‘s a well-known set of stages for dealing with loss, and it‘s easy to see how they map onto the current situation. The phases of denial, anger, bargaining and sadness can happen any order – they‘re a framework rather than a map. But the final one is the trump card. Acceptance.
This is the reality, now how do I deal with it?
And that‘s the one a lot of people are finding themselves at. We‘re discovering that it‘s possible to work from home, or socialise on Zoom. And from that, we can go a step further and find meaning.
Compassion is king
We‘re in a situation that‘s unpleasant, but temporary. It doesn‘t feel that way though, and we‘re not used to this sort of collective discouragement. But the fact that we know everyone is going through the same thing just makes it easier to be empathetic and compassionate.
If your colleagues, friends and family are being snappish or short-tempered, you know the reason – and that it‘s not directed at you. Now more than ever is the time to reach deep into your pockets and throw out compassion like confetti. It will make them feel better… just maybe not right away.
Don’t forget the me-time
But don‘t forget to be compassionate to yourself too. It‘s not just okay to understand your own feelings, it‘s crucially important. Bottling things up just isn‘t going to help – if you‘re feeling angry or sad or just a bit cranky, take some time out and give your emotions some actual motion.
Whatever form that takes will depend on you. It might be a workout, a home karaoke session or just having a little weep. All of those are fine.