The raw nerve of uncertainty has definitely been touched by Covid-19. The nature of Coronavirus plagues us with uncertainty. We cannot plan long term, which impacts holidays, business plans, social activities, delivering on business commitments, education and care for our children and the elderly. At every turn there are distractions, leading to over-thinking, procrastination and putting off making decisions. What uncertainty are you challenged by during the Covid-19 pandemic?
I was asked recently to run a workshop on uncertainty. Primarily to bring people’s focus back to what was most important to them. So that they could put their energy into what would allow their businesses to flourish as well as maintain life-work balance.
The Impact of Uncertainty
The uncertainty of Covid-19 is making it hard to concentrate, get your mojo back for working on your business or career. It’s hard to know where to start and what goals to set. As well as the safety implications of every day activities and the low level anxiety that brings.
When researching for this workshop, I found a study by University College London in 2016 about the relationship between uncertainty and stress. In essence, it said that not being sure is more stressful than not knowing at all. It confirmed what I knew from experience and intuitively, that being tantalised by the prospect of something is more unsettling than knowing it will, or won’t, happen for sure.
Think about your own experience: isn’t it harder to step out in front of people not sure how you’ll be received than knowing what you’re going to say will be celebrated or ridiculed; or asking someone out on a date; going for that job interview or; travelling abroad in these Covid-19 times right now, when infection spikes are happening all over the world? If you knew you wouldn’t catch Covid-19, you’d travel without concern. If you knew you would catch it, you definitely wouldn’t travel. But this half-way house is agonising. And this study points to all the signs that uncertainty leads to stress.
Covid-19 leads to long-term uncertainty, which means long-term stress. It has been 4 months so far and there is more to come. Long-term, or chronic, stress is not good for your system or your physical, mental, emotional well-being. So, it is no wonder that in these times of on-going uncertainty, we are finding it hard to make decisions, create plans, set goals and give ourselves and others the assurance that so many people feel they want and need.
Managing your Reaction to Uncertainty
One of the most effective things you can do is manage your anxiety. In the face of uncertainty, you cannot often manage the concerns beyond your control. Instead, managing your reaction to them is where your power lies.
Centring is an effective, quick win tool that brings you to calm and balance whenever you feel the mounting anxiety of uncertainty. Catch it as early as you can, and you’ll find the results work better. Try this 7-minute video:
Uncertainty in Practice
Now, let’s try an experiment, if you will? Think of a situation that brings you stress and anxiety. Maybe it’s around uncertainty, but it doesn’t have to be. Pick something that is around a five or less on a scale of 1-10 (where 1 is very calm and 10 is very stressed). That’s ideal.
Notice where and how your body is doing the stress and anxiety: tight shoulders and neck; shallow breathing; holding your breath; tension in your abdomen? And perhaps describe the sensation: heavy, dark weight; swirling waves like snakes; icy electric blue shocks; a solid block crushing my shoulders. These are just examples to give you an idea of what you might notice. Be as honest and open as you can with yourself. The more detail, the more awareness you are gaining and insight you might have.
Now do the centring in the video above. Afterwards, notice how your body is different and perhaps ask yourself the following questions:
What steps would I take from here?
What is in my power to change?
How would I manage my uncertainty from this place?
What is not in my control?
Being different in Uncertainty
What’s fascinating about this exploration is that by centring, you are literally becoming a different person from the one filled with anxiety and concern about uncertainty. When centred, you are calmer, more relaxed and grounded. You are releasing hormones and neurotransmitters that bring ease, creativity and resourcefulness.
So, you will probably discover that your answers to these questions might include specific, short-term action steps, practical answers that you can do now, and nothing too far in the future. Certainly, on the workshop, people were saying things like “Do this one thing that gives me this result or that outcome and then I’ll see where to go next”, or “Start doing my wellness routine that I stopped once lockdown started”.
Choosing to Respond
It makes sense with uncertainty that you cannot plan too far ahead. When you are centred and grounded your responses mirror that truth. In anxiety, your answers hang on the need for certainty and security. And Covid-19 is giving us very little of that right now.
You cannot change the uncertainty that is rampant in our world at the moment. But you can choose how you respond to that uncertainty. By managing your stress and anxiety more effectively with a tool like centring, you can make decisions in the face of uncertainty, accessing your inner wisdom so that you are resourced, creative and powerful.
Covid-19 is with us for a long while yet, and so is the uncertainty that is inherent in situations like this. Things are changing day to day. Centring can help you work with uncertainty so that you can respond to it creatively and without fear. Please do not waste your energy wishing or hoping it will be different. All that does is set up false expectations that things will change. Which only adds to your anxiety and stress when things do not change the way you want them to.
Over to You
Being calm in uncertainty means you can respond to the unknown effectively. Stay centred and grounded and the answers will come. You may not like the answers, but they will come. What answers are you getting when you centre around uncertainty? How else are you managing uncertainty effectively?
Learning to dance with uncertainty is a superpower. Uncertainty is not new with Covid-19. We have lived with uncertainty for thousands of years. Dancing with uncertainty can empower you to step into the unknown with confidence and build from what is possible. Where will you step next?
Pass it on
What did you take from this exploration in uncertainty? Do you know a friend, family member of work colleague who benefit from that as well? If so, please forward this blog to them in the knowledge that it will help them in these times of uncertainty.