“The only thing you can be certain of is change”
There’s a saying along the following lines, “the only thing you can be certain of is change”, and that couldn’t be more true than it is right now. Layered on top of the typical change and uncertainty in our everyday lives, we now face a constant stream of COVID-19 data, trends, insights, and stories to try and wrap our heads around, along with the ever-changing guidance with regards to restrictions and lifestyle advice.
Some people cope really well, some resist, some find it enormously unsettling, and some experience a mixture of all of the above. And that response can influence how we feel day to day, how we perform at work, how we show up for our family, and more.
Change is challenging; uncertainty even more
There’s a reason we like things to stay the same – it allows us to feel safe, centred in our comfort zone, our existing experience and knowledge guiding us through without too much effort. But just because something stays the same doesn’t mean that it’s the best thing for us, does it?
Making change is scary, stress-inducing, and energy-consuming – even when it’s change that we really want. We manage that fear and stress by getting clear on what we’re changing and why, planning how we go about it, and maintaining some level of control.
But when we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, we’re not just faced with changes, we’re faced with significant uncertainty, and that becomes stress-inducing. I would argue that anyone who says they don’t find this situation stressful is either lying or has brilliant coping mechanisms when in a situation outside of their control – and the latter is what we need to tap into.
I want to share with you 10 ways that help people cope with change and uncertainty. I’ve seen these work with clients and I’ve used many of them myself. The key is to choose one or two that resonate with you and make a start.
10 ways to help you cope
#1 Acknowledge how you feel
First and foremost it’s important to tap into your emotions and acknowledge how you feel about the situation you find yourself in. Living in denial won’t help you take action and move forward. Identifying and labelling emotions can be empowering, so find the right descriptor (E.g. angry, sad, frustrated, calm, confused, etc.), then consider how to best address that feeling to get you where you want to be.
#2 Accept what’s out of your control
There’s a lot happening that’s completely out of our control right now, even though it affects how we live our life every day. You might completely disagree with the approach, it may anger and frustrate you, but the reality is that you can’t control other people’s actions or the rules we need to follow. But, with some conscious effort, you can control what you choose to focus on. And that could be things that are positive, uplifting and calming.
#3 Take a reality check on your resilience
This situation is certainly testing our resilience – our ability to adapt to our new environment and bounce-back from adversity. It can be helpful to reflect on the things you have successfully bounced-back from in the past – it’s your indication that you can do it again and emerge from the other side in good shape. If you want to take a look at your resilience in more detail, why not download my quiz? >>> Download the resilience quiz
#4 Focus on the present
By focusing on the here and now, and minimising the many ‘what if?’ scenarios that can play havoc in your mind, you have a much greater chance of feeling in control, being able to manage what’s in front of you, and enjoy the positive things that are still happening in abundance every day. You don’t need to throw away your future planning, but put the emphasis on living in the present.
#5 Know what helps you
In times of stress it’s important to know what you find effective for getting you calm and relaxed. Do you know what your go-to ‘thing’ is? A walk, time on phone with a friend, certain music, laughter and silliness with the family, some breathing space alone … there’s a huge range of things that people turn to – know what yours is and be sure to make it abundant in your daily living. It will help keep your resilience high.
#6 Keep A Routine
Whilst many of us love the idea of spontaneity, most people thrive more with some form of routine in their lives. Finding a routine that works for you and works with the current restrictions is really important – it can help keep you grounded, calm and with a sense of being in control.
#7 Put your needs first
As selfish as it might sound, understanding and meeting your own needs is critical, but even more in times like these. If you’re not in good shape, then you won’t be in the best position to help others. Nourish yourself at every opportunity with things that help lift you and make you feel great.
#8 Ask for support where you need it
Don’t be shy about asking for help. Stressful situations can often force people to become quite insular, and lockdown restrictions can exacerbate the situation. We have to become masters at understanding what will help us and then asking for it. A request for support is seldom denied, so why not give it a try?
#9 Surround yourself with the right people
In these tough circumstances it’s important to have the right people in your virtual circle. People who know you, know what is helpful (and unhelpful) to you, and help keep you lifted. Just like you can for them. Being surrounded by excess negativity at times like these will be draining and sap your reserves of resilience.
#10 Celebrate every positive thing
You might think gratitude is a bit woo-woo, but I can assure you it is enormously powerful in influencing our mindset to be more positive and solution-focused. And that becomes infectious to the people around us. Try writing down or discussing 3 things that you are grateful for each day, and see where it takes you.
Change and uncertainty are challenging for all of us, but with the right coping strategies you can protect and build your resilience to handle it all. And if you want to check out your resilience with my quiz, here’s the link again >>> Resilience Quiz