It is November 2020, just two days into the election, and just when I thought we as Americans just could not take on any more uncertainty, we are waiting to hear who will be elected president. Having been on already shaky ground since March of this year due to COVID-19, adding a whole new level of uncertainty to the mix has many of us electric with anxiety. Or frozen in stuckness. Or wanting to run far, far away.
I am beginning to wonder if one of the larger assignments of getting through this really tough transition is learning to live with uncertainty.
The brain has evolved to protect us, and in doing so it needs to be able to predict future outcomes. It requires information so it can make a plan to keep us safe. It has us comparing ourselves to ensure we measure up and can survive socially. These functions of the brain are survival-based and have been evolving since the beginning of time when our environment was very much eat or be eaten.
Not having information to be able to predict future outcomes and plan for safety has our brains and nervous systems going haywire and this experience can be wildly uncomfortable. Anytime we are going through a big life change, personally and collectively we enter into the “unknown” periods that leave us restless, unsure, and lost.
Here are 3 Tips to Live Through Uncertainty:
- Don’t forget to breathe. And really breathe. The most nourishing thing we can do for our systems is to take a deep inhale and exhale. Seriously, a belly breathe will do more for you than a green juice. When we are in a place of uncertainty we tend to shorten our breath. I invite you right now to pause in this moment and just notice your breath. What is the quality, length, and what parts of your body are expanding and contracting? Now try putting one hand on your heart and the other on your belly and inhale to the count of 4 until you feel the hand on your belly rise, hold for 4 and exhale for 6. Do this for 3 minutes and notice how you feel after. Breathwork is not only nourishing for you on a cellar level, getting oxygen to your brain, it is also giving your brain and nervous system a signal that you are safe, releasing hormones that help you actually calm down and feel safe. We underestimate the healing power of our breath and connecting to it more mindfully each day will support us in being in uncertainty and listening to our own inner guidance.
- Movement. Move your friggen’ body. Several times a day. Our feelings are held in our bodies, therefore the fear, anxiety, worry, grief, all of it is stored in your body and so we need to shake and move off the energy. This can look different for each person. For some, a deep stretch feels like a good enough release. Dance is beautiful for this purpose. Walking, earthing, hiking, cycling, swimming, twerking, it does not matter. This is not about exercise. This is about releasing stuff that is stuck in the body. When I feel stuck or that I am spiraling in anxiety I just start dancing or shaking or jumping up and down. It shifts my focus, brings a smile to my face, and shifts my energy. I also recommend doing this to get through an urge to cope in an unhealthy way.
- Daily Dose of JOY! One of the hardest parts of living through these times is the feeling that there is nothing to look forward to. With COVID cases on the rise, holiday planning, vacations, and get-togethers are all on hold, yet again. Not having something to look forward to takes its toll on mental and emotional wellbeing- so I think it is so important to schedule in a daily dose of joy to your day, every day. Add in a bath with your new bath bomb, calling a friend, watching a show that makes you laugh, a short meditation, coffee on the patio, a good stretch outside facing the sun. It doesn’t need to be grandiose, it needs to be accessible and not serve a purpose other than to bring you joy. So what are the small things that bring you joy? Get out your phone/ planner and schedule one small daily dose of joy and have that to look forward to each day.
We need all the tools we can gather right now to remain grounded and healthy during these times of uncertainty. We need a break for our danger centers in the brain and our nervous systems. We need to process and access deep feelings and move them through our body and lastly, we need moments of pause to listen to ourselves and each other and be able to move forward in a conscious way.
Don’t let fear call the shots of your day, your life, and your outcomes. Fear has a purpose, to keep you safe, and it’s only a PART of you, it’s not the CEO of your life. YOU are. So, give yourself permission to sit in the yuck of not knowing, trusting that you will find your way somehow.
Take care of yourselves and therefore each other,