How to relax with uncertainty
Dealing with the stress and anxiety of self isolation and the Coronavirus
You’re in limbo right now, like everyone else. When will we have this Covid 19 beat? When will the kids go back to school? When can you stop working from your kitchen table and get a decent cup of coffee? You don’t know how long it will be before you can go for coffee with your friends or visit your family. You can’t make definitive plans and us humans like making plans. Planning is one of those skills that’s helped us develop into the world dominating species we are. So waking up to uncertainty every day can be stressful and make you feel anxious. It can even make you feel helpless but you’re not.
Learning to deal with uncertainty is a skill which is valuable right now and also for your future. We often kid ourselves up that we are in control of everything but that’s simply not possible. How often do your plans go to plan anyway? By learning to deal with uncertainty now you’ll set yourself up for a less stressful future.
3 ways to relax with uncertainty
You may notice your mind trying to deal with uncertainty by filling in the blanks. This often tends to be by taking the negative, worst case, doomsday scenario and slotting it in. If this is true for you every time you have the thought stop and think of alternatives. What’s the best possible outcome? What’s a middle of the road kind of outcome?
You never know with all the tech companies on the case we might get a vaccine sooner than anyone thought. In a few months time we might not be quite back to normal but things may be a lot less restricted. We might actually get to grips with technology and start enjoying spending more time at home.
You don’t have to believe these alternatives, you’re just making room for different scenarios. By having other options it’s like you’re telling your mind to ‘hold this space’ while it waits for more information.
This one comes up a lot for a reason, it works! You breathe in for a count of 7 and out for a count of 11. The idea is to breathe out for longer than you breathe in. This sends a signal to your body and brain to stand down, nothing threatening is happening, it can relax.
If 7/11 is too long a count for you try 4/7 or another number, as long as the out breath is longer. Try to breathe from your belly rather than your chest. If you put a hand on your belly you can feel it rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe it out. Take it gently, you might not notice much difference the first few times.
Once you’re comfortable with the breathing technique practice it while you’re worrying, feeling anxious or running doomsday scenarios through your head. Breathing this way can help you relax while having the feeling or thought. Once you can feel relaxed even when the thought or feeling pops up it doesn’t have the same impact on you.
Imagine somewhere it would be very relaxing and safe to be. It could be your own bedroom, somewhere you’ve been on holiday or somewhere you’d like to visit, it doesn’t matter. Imagine being there in as much detail as possible. Is it warm or cool? What colours and shapes can you see? What sounds are there? What does it feel like or how does it smell?
Spend some time exploring there until you feel very relaxed. Then, while still relaxing in your special place, get a bit of a sense of that uncertain feeling or thought in the distance. Perhaps there’s a doomsday picture that goes with it. You could imagine seeing it on a TV screen far away. Notice how different it feels when you’re comfortable and relaxed in your special place and it’s all the way over there. You can let the screen go blank and relax even more deeply in your special place.
If you’re still having trouble coping with the uncertainty I offer one to one online appointments. Alternatively you can check out more techniques on my YouTube channel.