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Surviving Uncertainty

2020 was a year that will forever go down in history as being a year of uncertainty. It may just be the year that causes us to cringe at the very mention of it. It was a year that tested our faith, our motivation, strength and mental health. Since we are still living during uncertain times, I think that it is important to discuss the toll that surviving uncertainty can have on individuals.

To share my personal experience with uncertainty, I was recently informed that I contracted Covid19. This was a revelation that brought about multiple emotions for me. I felt angry, scared, hopeless, and frozen. When I saw the dreadful red letters of "COVID19" show up in my healthcare portal, I was confused and in denial. The 10 days of being in quarantine only brought about more overwhelming emotions such as loneliness, feeling forgotten, anger, sadness and as if my life was placed on pause. It was difficult for me to thinking about the future or make plans about the future. I also lived in constant worry that I may have exposed my loved ones to the virus by being around them. Living with uncertainty can be an emotional battle even if you are equipped with the right tools to manage it.

As I navigated through the uncertainty of 2020 and the recent uncertainty of contracting the virus, there were important lessons that I learned in order to effectively cope. I learned the following things: 1.) The importance of granting yourself grace, 2.) It is okay to feel whatever you feel. It is okay to feel confused, unmotivated, worried or afraid, 3.) You are not expected to perform at the same level you were performing before uncertainty. It is difficult to perform at our highest level if we are in survival mode, 4.) Practice mindfulness and learn to live in the present moment. If you learn to live in the present moment, the uncertainty of the future is less overwhelming because you only have to deal with what it happening in the present. This allows us to feel more in control because the future is not in our control.

If you are struggling with uncertainty, some coping skills that may be helpful are distress tolerance skills. Distress tolerance skills help you to manage overwhelming emotions. There are skills known as distract or self soothe skills that you can use to help you cope. I have listed a few below.

Self Soothe Skills:

Things you see

•Look at nature, look at pictures that you like, take a walk in the park, rearrange your room the way you want it to look

Things you hear

•Listen to relaxing, energetic, or soothing music, listen to the sounds in nature, listen to a book on tape (audible), sing or rap your favorite songs, call a friend,

Things you taste

•Have a good meal, drink a soothing drink such as tea or hot chocolate, have a dessert, sample ice cream flavors, chew your favorite gum or candy, eat one thing mindfully

Things you touch

•Pet your dog or cat, take a bubble bath, take a hot shower, put clean sheets on your bed, soak your feet, put lotion on, put a cold compress to your head, sit in a comfortable chair, squeeze ice, squeeze a stress ball

Things you smell

•Use your favorite cologne or perfume, bake cookies, use room spray, use essential oils, smell flowers

Distract Skills

Activities-participating in hobbies

Contributing-Altruism, volunteering for a cause, helping others

Comparisons-Comparing yourself to others in similar situations

Opposite Emotions-Doing things that create an opposite emotion. If you're feeling sad, try watching something funny. (I watch TikTok videos and Impractical Jokers to make me laugh)

Pushing Away-Putting your thoughts on a imaginary shelf until you are able to deal with them

Other thoughts- Complete puzzles or doing other things to intentionally think other thoughts

Intense Sensations-Squeezing a stress ball, squeezing ice or puddy

We are all living in uncertain times and we are navigating the best way the we can. Be patient with yourself and others and always remember to seek to find the balance in all things, even during a pandemic.


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