Managing uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic
2 years ago
By Sakuni Weerasinghe The pandemic that we are facing at present is far from over. Due to how highly transmissible the virus is, we are grappling with a fear of contagion. Our battle doesn’t stop there, however, as we have seen employee dismissals and pay cuts, fights over basic resources, an increase in intimate partner violence, and the education of school-goers coming to a standstill due to the pandemic. It’s as if you don’t really know how the day will unfold from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. This brings about a host of psychological experiences of stress, fear, anxiety, anger, irritability, a sense of impending danger, and hopelessness. These experiences might feel overwhelming, which is why, moving forward, we need to learn ways of managing this uncertainty. Here’s what you can do to manage uncertainty during the Covid-19 pandemic. Focus on your priorities Take a look at the big picture and how this experience fits in your life. We all carry with us a host of life experiences, and we can reflect on how we have managed difficult times in the past. We can look at our resilience as a strength which we can tap into during this pandemic as well. We can also ensure that we have our priorities in place, for example, keeping ourselves, our families, and our society as safe as possible by being a responsible individual. This might even serve you time to reassess your life, your values, and even your daily routine. Welcome change by making the necessary adjustments that resonate with who you are now and what is most important to you right now. Take a look at what can be managed Right now, everything might seem to be going haywire, beyond your control. Surely you cannot control the spread directly or revive your household or the economy back to its usual state immediately. Yet, there are little ways in which you can influence such matters. If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, that’s okay. Take a moment to breathe. Next, take a look at what can be managed. For example, you can contribute to controlling the spread by wearing a face mask and maintaining appropriate hygiene practices. You can enhance your finances by finding alternate ways of income through online platforms, turning your hobby into a profitable venture, and you can even involve other members of the family in the decision-making process. As apparent, while the whole problem might appear tough to tackle, by managing aspects of it, we can influence it to reach a resolution. Practise appropriate emotional management mechanisms The emotions of fear, sadness, anger, and frustration, among others, are part and parcel of this experience. They also contribute to us finding it difficult to manage our lives amidst the uncertainty. When we learn appropriate and healthy ways of emotional management, we add to our coping toolkit, which we can rely on even in the future. So make sure you get adequate rest and sleep, include immune-boosting and nutrient-enriched foods in your diet, limit over-processed food, and engage in exercise as basics to self-care. Allocate some time for relaxation, whether it is to engage in yoga, deep breathing exercises, colouring mandalas, tending to your garden, or listening to music. Engage in activities that make your life more fulfilling and add meaning to it. Stress and anxiety often stem from ruminating over the past or focusing on the “what ifs” regarding the future. Therefore, engaging in mindfulness activities that help you focus on the present moment is highly beneficial. You may also use distractions to help you shift your attention. It’s also important to identify triggers that cause these emotions and avoid or minimise exposure to them. For example, limiting TV time to prevent information overload regarding the horrors of the pandemic. Accept the uncertainty Another reason we find times of uncertainty overwhelming is because we demand certainty and predictability from life. Knowing how your day will go or knowing exactly where your next paycheck will come from seem to offer some stability in life. Thus, when we encounter a crisis such as the one we are facing right now, we find it difficult to manage it. Make it a point to challenge yourself and explore as to where the need for certainty stems from. Evaluate the pros and cons of being on a constant search for stability and demanding that life is experienced exactly as planned. Once the connection to this demanding nature is loosened, you’ll find yourself to be more free and flexible to come up with alternative plans and accommodate change. This is not to suggest that you throw all your life plans in a bin. Rather, it is an invitation for you to recognise that life can be unpredictable. Engage in behaviour that helps you cope with uncertainty Besides basic self-care, it is also vital that you engage in behaviour that helps you cope and adapt to these times. This might include making changes to your daily routine, using alternate ways to stay in touch with your family and friends, engaging in spiritual or religious practices that help cultivate hope. You may also develop new habits that improve your wellbeing such as taking online courses when you are required to stay indoors. Help-seeking behaviour also ought to be included in this list of coping behaviour. Whether it is talking to a family member, a good friend, or a trusted mental health professional, reach out when you feel like things are weighing on you.