We are in the midst of uncertain times, probably the most uncertain times most of us have ever lived through. It feels as if the world is collectively holding its breath as we we creep through the month of April, in hopes that things might return to normal sometime soon. Times are definitely uncertain and stressful. But, these aren’t the first uncertain or stressful times we’ve been through, nor will they be the last. In uncertain times like these, I try to remember to keep my focus on things that are certain.
6 Things I focus on in uncertain times
- I focus on the present moment – Uncertainty is probably the most anxiety-inducing thing in my life. I like to know what’s going to happen. But, the reality is that we never know what is going to happen. I might think I know what’s going to happen, but until that moment occurs, I really don’t. The only moment that is certain is the present moment. So, the best thing I can do is focus on that.
- I focus on what I can do today – There are so many memes about all the things you should have accomplished by the end of the isolation period we have all been forced to live in. But, the reality is that it’s OK if we don’t do anything more than survive today. Along with not knowing what will come tomorrow comes not knowing what I’ll be able to do tomorrow. So, I have to focus on today. What can I do in this moment, in this hour, today that will allow me to feel more calm and at peace? Perhaps that means focusing on work. Or, perhaps it means simply relaxing with a book, or meditating.
- I focus on what I can control – There is so much going on right now that is beyond anyone’s control. Yet, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to control it. We want to control the government’s response to the situation. We want to control our neighbor’s response, or our family’s response. But, we don’t have control over any of those things. The only thing I can control is my response to the situation. My response to the choices the government makes, the choices my neighbors make, or the choices my family may make.
- I focus on maintaining my health – It’s easy to allow myself to get absorbed in all that is going on and use all of that as an excuse to throw my healthy habits out the window. It’s easy to feed my anxiety with sugar. Or, to use the television as a distraction that sucks me in to the point that I barely move off the couch. Instead, I need to focus on maintaining the healthy habits I’ve built and perhaps even strengthening them. Sometimes distraction is just what we need, and sugar is great in moderation. But, at times like this it might be better for me to find healthier ways to distract myself , and to spend more time moving and breathing fresh air.
- I focus on the silver linings – Throughout the last few weeks of upheaval I’ve played a game in my head and tried to think of all the positives that could come out of this situation. I think about things like all the people being able to spend more time with the people they love, or the likelihood that more people (who want to) will be able to work from home even after this is over. I also see people using layoffs as an opportunity to chase a passion. We won’t know the true outcomes of this situation for years, but I do believe there will be both positive and negatives. I try to focus on the positives.
- I focus on gratitude – Right now I am grateful for many things. I am grateful that the state parks in my state have not closed (because I’m currently parked/living at one). I am grateful that so far everyone in my family has stayed healthy. I am grateful that my mom is taking this situation seriously and avoiding unnecessary exposure. I am thankful that Instacart delivers to this campground so that I don’t have to put myself at risk to go to the grocery store. Focusing on what I have to be grateful for, helps me avoid slipping into self-pity, which would suck me down a hole I don’t need to visit.
It’s difficult in times like these to focus at all, and it’s OK when that focus slips. But, it’s important, as much as possible, to try to keep focus on what matters, on the good things in life, and on the direction we want things to go. Especially, in times like these.