What is with 2020 anyway?  At a time of the year when students are usually enjoying spring break activities and families are looking forward to summer vacations around the corner, we’re now riddled with anxiety about health, financial future, and whether or not we have enough toilet paper to last out the pandemic!  Everything feels so weird.

Most of us are unaccustomed to living in limbo.  While some anxiety and uncertainty are just a part of life, this life space is really something none of us has ever experienced.  Most of us are finding this pandemic very unsettling, even terrifying at times.  Things like the roof over your head, job security, your child’s education, and the health and well-being of the people you love are not typically threatened all at the same time.  This can feel like a shocking “one-two punch” from the universe to be sure!

All of this uncertainty tends to get our very human brains kicking into overdrive – ruminating, obsessing, and planning – to help our future feel more predictable and safe.  The trouble here is, “How do we make a plan around things that are completely out of our control?”  Suddenly the very specialized skills of our brain start working against us.  This very natural process of “working out a plan” starts to overwhelm us when cirucumstances keep fluctuating, changing, and moving beyond our ability to control.  Our ruminating and obsessive nature starts to deplete us physically and emotionally and panic can sometimes set in.

So how can we help ourselves and our highly developed brains to cope with the uncertainty?

Here are a few perspectives to consider:

Stay in the Here and Now.  After all, anything that ever happens only happens in the now.  In our brain’s attempt to keep us safe, our thoughts are constantly gravitating to either the past, “If only I had done something different we wouldn’t be suffering now” or to the future, “Once I’m able to secure this thing, then we’ll feel safe again.”  However, that’s always just speculation!  No one really knows how those things will or would have worked out.  Try keeping your focus on what you have now.  The safety that exists now.  And try using your five senses to identify everything in the now you have to be thankful for.  It helps.

Adjust Your Focus.  If you become upset about what you might potentially be losing or have lost, try to adjust your focus to the advantages you have right in front of you.  For example, working from home may allow you to stay in your pajamas all day if you wish.  No more stressful commute for a while.  Additional time with family and pets as well as time to finish projects around the house might also be appreciated.

Engage in Self Care.  Make sure to eat healthy, get enough sleep, and turn off technology when it becomes a contant stream of negativity.  Remember to find pleasure in a delicious cup of coffe, a warm bath, conversations with friends and family, or maybe meditation and spiritual practice.

Reflect on Past Successes.  Try to remember past stressful times and circumstances.  What did you do to cope then?  What made things better or worse?  Did worrying or obsessing help things or make it worse?

Seek Support.  Isolation and self quarantining can make feeling supported a challenge, but look for ways to find help when you need it.  Make an online counseling appointment.  Having someone outside your life to weigh in with you can often make all the difference in being able to see things from a new perspective.  Use social media and technology to stay connected with those who make you feel supported.  This is a time when we all need to support each other.  Give a little and get a little seems the order of the day.  Reach out to those who may be alone and feeling anxious, and don’t be afraid to ask for support from them if you need it as well.

Remember, this too shall pass.  We’ll make it through and we’re all in this together.  Try to keep in the now and let this all happen.  We are bigger than uncertainty.  I promise we are.