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Living with uncertainty

Uncertainty is one of the biggest causes of anxiety. When we don’t know what to expect our body goes into high alert in order to protect us from the unknown, and it triggers our fight, flight or freeze response. This is designed to keep us safe, unfortunately, it also triggers a series of biological reactions which is not necessary or used effectively can cause stress levels to rise. 

We all know that this is true, we have been experiencing it all our lives. We are used to having a day when we feel a little anxious because we have an exam, an interview or even a date. What happens though when we are living in a prologued period of uncertainty, like a pandemic, just to pluck an exaple from the air! Of course it might not be the pandemic that has you feeling like this, it could be during 6th form worrying about your exams or during a work placement. Perhaps you are working somewhere and there is a uncertainty because the industry is in trouble and your job might be at risk. Stress levels are high at times.

You may think that feeling a little stressed is normal, there’s no harm in a little stress to keep you on your toes. Well, stress can be incredibly harmful. Short period of stress are normal, our body can process all the chemicals our body releases when it is just a shaort term reaction. When we are living with stress all the time though, those reactions can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, even strokes. You may have noticed you aren’t sleeping well and feel tired all the time… that is caused by raised stress levels too.

Recognising that we are living in this state is the first step to managing our emotions and reactions and to calming the physical response your body has.

What can we do to help us stay calm?

There are lots  of strategies you can use to help you when you are living with uncertainty.

Here are my favourites: 

Grab a pen

It won’t surprise you that one of my favourite things to do when I am in a prolonged period of uncertainty is to journal. I grab a notebook and write about how I am feeling. I focus on the issue that is causing the uncertainty and see if there is anything I can do to rationalise the situation. Is there anything I can do to take control? Anything I can prepare for? If there is then I make a note of what to do next. I also use my journal to work through my emotions surrounding it. Is how I am feeling rational or have I been reminded of another time when things went wrong and that is why I am feeling like this. If so, how likely is it that things will turn out the same way? Write out all your thought and try to write without filtering or worrying about spelling and grammar. You might be surprised what you discover. Of course you don’t have to wait until you are in crisis to journal, you can write for a few minutes every day to stay on top of your wellbeing.

 

Meditation

Meditation is both a wonderful way to work though any emotions that you might be feeling around the situation you are in, but it also calms the nervous system. When we meditate our heart rate slows and we give our minds time to process what is happening in our lives. Meditating every day is a great way to stay on top of your mental health. There are many ways to meditate. If you try one technique and it doesn’t work for you or you aren’t able to emerge yourself, don’t give up. Guided meditation is a great starting point for most people as it is just like listening to a story.

Why not try one of my guided meditations? 

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Breathe

If you know me you will know that I am a huge believer in the power of breath work. Simply by taking a few slow, deep breaths you can reverse the effects of your fight, flight or freeze response and begin to calm your body and mind. There are lots of breathing techniques you can use, but just thinking about your breathing will cause you to instinctively slow your breathing and your body will begin to calm down. Hot chocolate breathing is a wonderful way to calm yourself and your loved ones at this time of year. You can find out all about hot chocolate breathing in this article I wrote on Medium.

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Exercise

I know! The last thing you want to be doing when you are feeling anxious and uncertain, is thinking about exercising. Most of us just want to hibernate and eat comforting food. Unfortunately that is the worst thing you can do. When we are feeling anxious or stressed our body is prepared for running away or fighting and the best way to process the chemicals produced is to exercise and use those chemicals the way they were intended to be used. You may hate every moment but your body will thank you and you will feel calmer and more in control afterwards. 

Making sure you eat healthily for at least 80% of the time is also more important than ever when we are feeling anxious. Foods we tend to turn to for comfort; sugary, high fat, caffeinated, alcoholic foods may make you feel better in the short term but when the effects wear off you are left feeling more anxious than before. You also need more and more to get the effect you need so before you know it you are eating and drinking more and more and then you feel worse than ever. 

 

Switch off

If your stress is being caused by things in the wider world, as oposed to things in your personal life, switch off the TV and stop reading the news. We are bombarded by messages of fear by the mainstream media and this doesn’t help anyone. The messages we are given are carefully designed to have the greatest impact on us so that we act and  do what is needed, but in reality it is causing people a great deal of anxiety. If there are really important messages that you need to hear you will find out from someone. Most of the time though there is very little you can do to change the situation and it is better for your emotional state to be blissfully unaware. 

Life in the moment

Anxiety is worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet. By trying to live in the moment as much as possible and focus on the here and now you will reduce your anxiety and feel happier. Want to know more why not read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. 

These are just a few simple things that you can do to help you to cope when you are living in a prolonged period of uncertainty. There are many more, but these are the easiest to implement and, in my opinion the most effective. 

As this prolongued period of uncertainty rolls on for everyone, which of these tips will you be implementing to help you stay calm and happy throughout.

 

 

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click the link and buy the product/service associated I will receive a small payment in return. The product/service will not cost you any more. I never recommend anything I have not experienced myself. I always appreciate any purchases made using my links as they enable me to continue writing and helping more people. 

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