Emotional Well-Being in a Time of Great Uncertainty
Uncertainty is that strange, uncomfortable feeling of anxiety when you are no longer in familiar territory and yet don’t know what lies ahead. Needless to mention, the COVID-19 situation has brought into our lives unprecedented volatility, complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty. How can we maintain our emotional well-being as we cope with the stress of going through a major global health crisis? While it is an undeniable fact that our mental health will take a toll during these strange and tumultuous times, here are a few things we can keep in mind to preserve our mental wellbeing:
1. Uncertainty is a certain thing.
Change is inevitable and considering the way this pandemic has changed our work and lifestyles, the smart thing to do would be to accept that things after the lockdown will not exactly go back to “normal”—instead, a new normal will prevail, changing our lives for the near future. Just as change is inevitable, so is the uncertainty that is sure to follow. But how much stress this uncertainty itself causes to our mental health and well-being can be determined by our ability to practice acceptance.
2. Focus on what you can control.
Uncertainty causes extreme stress and affects our mental health because it involves focusing on things we cannot control, and things we don’t have immediate solutions to. One way to combat this is to focus on the things you can control and plan. Identify the aspects of your life during the lockdown that you can work on and use them as a framework to build the rest of your life around. Exercising your agency and control over your daily life can help deal with feelings of anxiety and stress during times of uncertainty. Establish a daily routine that helps you move through your day in a planned manner. The habitual or familiar will help you feel more in control of your life even when things seem to be spiraling out of control. The habitual and routine provide a safety net, something to help you feel your life is not in freefall.
3. Embrace the idea of many possibilities.
Even though the coronavirus outbreak has brought a lot of confusion and uncertainty into our lives, it follows that it also brings with itself a myriad of possibilities. Not knowing what the future holds might be daunting especially in the middle of COVID-19, but it’s also important to look at the silver lining and recognize that there are other doors that will open when one closes. Often, change brings many options and opportunities and when you allow for many possibilities to happen, you prevent yourself from staying too attached to living life in a pre-planned manner. As you open up to new exciting possibilities, you also open yourself up to exploring new aspects of yourself which can have a great impact on your personal growth and mental wellbeing.
4. Watch the thoughts you feed your body.
Many people worry themselves sick over an imagined outcome, and the stress from reiterating negative thoughts all day can impact your mental wellbeing in a way that stops you from enjoying the present moment. Practicing mindfulness and being self-aware of the thoughts we’re entertaining will help us challenge negative thinking and focus more on the here and now. During the COVID-19 situation, what we can do to improve well-being is to amplify good news and stories about people recovering all over the world, or helping This is not false optimism, but a realistic outlook that will help you get through for the next few weeks of your life and help protect your emotional wellbeing.
5. Don’t let fear control your life.
The dangers that the coronavirus pandemic poses on our health and lives are real, but letting the fear of getting infected or expecting the worst possible outcomes consume every part of our day is also dangerous to our mental health. Make sure to fight fear with facts and stay informed about the situation by referring to reliable sources like the World Health Organization, and try to limit your news and social media intake to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Many of us are feeling anxious as we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 outbreak and how things will unfold over the next few weeks. We must learn how to navigate effectively through these difficult times and prioritize our mental and emotional wellbeing during this period.