Coping vs Thriving in times of Uncertainty
Plenty has been said about the current health and economic crisis due to COVID-19, which is just making its way around the world right now. Among all the theories, sad stories, debacles and isolation measures, there is a consistent message across every sector - we don't know how long this will last, and we don't know the full extent of its effects.
Not an easy situation to be in, but here we are. Not knowing what the future holds, and with really very few reference points to guide us.
So how do we manage, cope or grow in this context?
I have found a few things that help keep your sanity and clarity in this situation, keeping anxiety at bay and allowing to plan ahead - to a degree. I list three I like as they are easy to do and have quick results.
I find journaling helps a lot. In no particular way or about particular topics. Just release your thoughts, feelings, worries and dreams on paper, and try to do it consistently. This exercise"materializes" your thoughts, bringing a form of relief to your day. Reading them afterwards makes them seem a bit more remote, and you can now look at these more objectively, and start the next steps.
Further, over a longer period of time you may realize certain thoughts repeat themselves, or patterns. These are great indicators of areas to focus on, there also might be some hidden strengths that you haven't realized yet.
2. Scenario Planning
This is looking at all the what-if situations that can happen as a result of the crisis. Based on the things you learnt from journaling, pick a focus area that is worrying you most, chances are it's job security or rather loss of income.
Starting with your current income, compare to potential scenarios, such as being reduced to part-time, losing your job altogether, accessing Government subsidies and potentially also thinking of alternative income streams, as little as these might be, write them down.
Same for your expenses, how much are you normally spending? What can you cut and how soon? Are you eligible for any rental assistance or mortgage delay initiatives?
Write it all down.
Now - what information is missing to complete these "future snapshots"? Be clear about these, some info will simply not exist (e.g. when does the lockdown stop?), while other might be available, you just don't know it yet. Research what is missing and add to the scenarios.
Then - which of these scenarios can I positively influence, and which ones are out of my control? The aim is to take useful action!
Then look at these options and talk about them with family, friends, etc, who might see something you are missing.
Having these options of your future laid out in front of you like snapshots, will help you feel a bit more in control, especially having identified and acting on the areas that you can control. Action is the final goal, inaction will lead to freezing, fear and despair.
3. Gratefulness Exercises
It has been proven over and over that grateful people have more happiness, living a life where you are consistently thankful for what you have makes you appreciate the things you might be taking for granted.
Times like these are a good reminder to check in and take stock of the good things in your life, one way of doing this could be listing three good things that happened in your day or pick three different things each night that you are grateful for.
There are many other things you can do such as meditating, exercising, avoiding the news (or reducing to a minimum), cutting back on social media and avoiding negative people where you can.
The three above I find easier to implement, and have good results for little effort. The key is consistency with journaling and gratefulness, practice both every day.
The Scenario Planning exercise is a quick way to gain and overview of what is going on and how you can -despite limited information- take actions towards setting yourself up the best way possible.
For any other help, don't hesitate to reach out and we can work together on a plan to get your confidence and clarity up, and develop an action plan to make the most out of these crazy times.