Tips to manage uncertainty and increase resilience

  • 15-04-20
  • Louise Kelly

I think it’s fair to say that Covid-19 has affected everyone’s lives. We’ve found our normal ways of going about daily life completely brought to a halt and we’ve had to rely on new ideas to keep things feeling as normal as possible. For me, the hardest thing to deal with has been the uncertainty around how long these measures will last and how long it will take us to get back to normal. I am sure I am not alone in these feelings.

In these times of change, it’s important to manage your stress and find ways to help you build resilience to cope with everything that is going on. I’ve put together these tips on how to cope with the uncertainty we all face. While this isn’t an unexhaustive list, they are things that I feel have helped me keep sane during this time!

Create a plan

It is important to keep structure to your day. Get up at the same time. Put proper clothes on, and don’t stay in your PJs all day (as tempting as it might be!). Eat regular meals. When you are working, put regular calls in with your team or colleagues. We have a Zoom call every morning at 9:00 am. It allows us to check in with each and set our intentions for the day. I have found it enormously helpful to give myself this structure and purpose. Otherwise, I feel aimless and unproductive. Take regular breaks and get away from the screen.

Even if you aren’t working right now or on the days you are not, you can still give yourself a plan. Find time to exercise, clean out your closet, and reach out to friends. Zoom, FaceTime, and House Party have made it easier than ever to have video conversations with your friends and family. Utilise them!

Do things that will give you a sense of achievement

It’s important to feel that your day was worthwhile and that you can feel satisfied with what you have done. You can start small and work up to new things you haven’t tried before. Get a small ledger reconciled. Finish your journal entries. Tidy up your living room. Clean out your wardrobe. Why not work on your resume and LinkedIn profile? Those are things we always say we will get to but never find the time for. It’s important not to leave tasks unfinished, get them completed so you don’t end your day with them hanging over your head.

Focus on the positives

What kind of possibilities are there for you during this time? Does it give you some time to catch up on things you have been putting off? I’ve been able to tidy up my database and complete all my admin tasks, but I usually don’t find time for that until the Christmas break! Do you have a backlog of things you can clear during this time? Perhaps this is a good time to look at your processes and see what you can improve.

This is also a good time to practice gratitude. It is important for your resilience and good mental health to remember the things you can be grateful for. I have found it useful to keep a gratitude journal in which I write down something I can be grateful for that day. Then, in my more uncertain and lower moments, I can review it and remember the positives.

Reduce your stress

High-stress moments happen but they are never helpful. It’s important to learn how to cope in these moments and learn how to reduce your stress. Personally, I find yoga helpful because I can only focus on my breathing and the next pose. Also, there are the endorphins you receive from exercise that make it a great stress reduction technique.

Another thing that is helpful for me is building Lego! I know that sounds crazy but stay with me on this one. By keeping my hands busy and focusing on the next instruction, I can’t think about what was stressing me out and after I’ve finished, I don’t remember the stress. Lego might not be your thing but how about jigsaw puzzles, baking, painting, or gardening? These are all things that will distract you and give you a sense of achievement.

Recognise and accept how you are feeling

There’s no denying that you will get times during this crisis when you feel anxious, stressed, and fearful about the future. It’s natural and completely understandable. But you don’t want to get lost in your thoughts and spiral. Remember – you are not your thoughts! Your worries and thoughts are normal to have but they are not facts. Write your thoughts and feelings down so you can look at them more objectively. This can help you realise that this isn’t you, it’s just a moment.

There are lots of apps out there to help you in moments of anxiety and the more you use them, the less likely it is those moments of anxiety will flare up. Personally, I have used Calm and Headspace for years and rave about them. I’ve heard great things about Happify and Pacifica as well.

Focus on what you can control

This is a time of great uncertainty, it’s important to remember that while you can’t control everything, you can control some things and that’s what you should focus your attention on. You can’t control what your sales team is doing but you can complete the month-end tasks. None of us can control when the lockdown will end but we can complete the year-end process.

Focus on yourself and your capabilities

Remember this is an extraordinary and uncertain time for everyone and you are not alone. One of the guarantees in this uncertain time is that you will not be the only person going through these changes so make sure you reach out and share your ideas and feelings with friends, colleagues, ex-colleagues, and family. Staying interactive and in touch with people will do wonders for stress relief and motivation.

If you want to get in touch to talk through plans, stress relief, or any assistance with your job search, please feel free to call me at (02) 8324 5643.