By Amy Stephenson
Is it just me or has the news been sounding like a Magic 8 ball for the past five months? Concentrate and ask again, Ask again later, Better not tell you now or even Outlook not so good. It all seems pretty accurate to the level of uncertainty we have all felt.
How do we move forward in a time when the future looks like a grey haze? While challenging, there are steps we can take to improve our outlook and cope with the challenges uncertainly presents.
Control your information flow: Decide which sources you listen to and when to get your updates. Getting breaking news as it happens sounds like a positive, but being inundated with information can feel overwhelming. If you curate which sources you use for information, you can better take in meaningful content. Try to avoid first thing in the morning. It’s better to allow yourself some time to reflect on your own feelings rather than jumping into the headlines.
Set realistic timelines: Taking things day by day can be frustrating. When we open up our minds to fill in the blank, we use worst-case scenarios. This negative thinking can spiral and create anxiety. So if explaining what next year will look like feels like describing the dark side of the moon, don’t feel pressured into trying. Rather than dwelling on what might be, focus on what you can coordinate.
Set goals: Even with a lot of moving targets, there are elements we can control. Find internal goals like reading X number of books, trying new recipes, or increasing the number of times you walk around the block. Personal goals can help give you clear action steps and motivation. Positive accomplishments can boost morale and give you a sense of control.
Filter the situation: Breaking down big issues into something we can look in the eye helps us determine which action steps we can take. While there are a number of concerns as of late, getting caught up in every point can leave you diminished. Not to underscore the issues, but have you noticed a lack of pro sports or the cancellation of certain international conferences? Devote your emotional energy to what is most meaningful to you.
Be kind to yourself: These times are strange and have pushed us all to face challenges. Feeling frustrated, sad or concerned is OK and important. Suppressing or ignoring our emotions leads to bottling them up, rumination and negative self-thinking. Being kind will look different for everyone – a cup of tea, doing your nails, going for a run. But whatever it is, let yourself have those moments.
This year has been a ride. It is not clear how the remainder of 2020 will play out but we do know tomorrow is coming and just like yesterday, we will face it. There are bound to be more lessons to learn but we should all take a moment to celebrate that we have come a long way.