We like to think that life follows a straight path and that we have the map to make our lives happen the way we want it to.
Our brain is constantly making predictions about the future because it needs to ensure our survival, so it wants us to be prepared for whatever might happen.
In reality, change and uncertainty are the only certainties.
Three months ago, we were dealing with the pandemic and hopeful of a future that would bring us back to normal life. But the reality of now is that there are new challenges facing us. This can be hard to cope with, and we fight against the challenges that change and uncertainty bring.
So, what can we do to help ourselves?
Coping is about knowing what we have power over and what we don’t have power over. It then follows that we need to take action on the things we do have power over and learn to accept and adapt to what we don’t have power over.
During the pandemic we did not have power over the reality that the virus was here and was spreading. But we did have power over protecting ourselves with our behaviours and safety measures (mask wearing, social distancing, etc).
When we are faced with fears and problems it can be helpful to write them all down and then think about them. Which problems can I do something about and what are the things that I just must accept and adapt to?
Problem Focused Coping for the challenges that I do have power over…
- What are my needs?
- What choices do I need to make?
- What’s the most important thing to me?
- What plan can I make that will help me with this problem?
- Is there someone who I can talk to who may help/guide me?
- What have I done before that was helpful to me?
- Set small goals and make one change at a time.
Emotion-focused coping for the challenges I do not have power over…
- Deal with the feelings of upset and fear – reach out and talk to family, friends and colleagues who care about you
- Allow yourself to feel badly and be compassionate and tolerant of yourself and others
- Create a ‘Worry Box’ – write your worries, leave them in the box and ‘park them’. Let yourself worry for a set period (15mins), then stop and distract yourself with some activity.
- Do things that you enjoy and that make you feel good
- Take care of the basics – eat well, moderate exercise, sleep
- Go into nature and enjoy then simple things
- Keep a perspective ‘Everything is temporary’ (Edith Eger 2020)
- Appreciate what’s good and ok in your world.
- Take a ‘One Day at a Time’ approach
- If you feel overwhelmed get support from your GP or avail of counselling support from the EAP service 1 800 882 882.
In truth, change and uncertainty is part and parcel of life. While we can never fully control what happens to us, we always have the choice as to how we can react and respond to any change.
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The AHR team