Mindfulness In Times of Uncertainty:

By Linda and Rod Thomson of Imagine If Coaching and Consulting

Even in the best of times, dealing with the stress of everyday life can be a challenge.  Stress arises from work, family obligations, traffic, household chores, etc.  When more significant things go awry, such as, unexpected expenses, a job becomes less secure, or health issues arise, stress increases significantly. 

In these situations, it is easy to become overwhelmed. You may find it difficult to honor your feelings and thoughts, while maintaining a focus on the challenges that life has dealt you. 

Acknowledging Feelings

It is normal to feel angst, frustration, anger, or concern about a situation.  Occasionally, you may need to express your feelings outwardly to a friend or family member.  Worry and complaint, however, should not become the topic of every conversation.

The key is to acknowledge your feelings without judgment and without allowing them to take over your life. 

Staying Present

Staying present by avoiding negative self-talk and being overly emotional is an important step in navigating uncertainty.  Focus must be on the “here and now” instead of “what could be” or “what might have been.” 

Focus On What You Can Control

In order to stay present, focus on what is under your control and what actions you can take.  At a minimum, you can control how you react to a situation.  Usually, however, there are other additional actions that you can take.  Some sample actions include reaching out to others, searching for resources, and looking at alternatives.

Acting won’t completely eliminate worry, but it will lessen it and you may even find a solution!

Look For Opportunities

Often the potential for something good lies within something that initially appears to be a negative situation.  Exploring the possible opportunities in the uncertainty you face may lead you to see an opportunity that you might never have taken had the situation never arisen. 

There may be opportunities to change your life style, take your career a new direction, learn something different, or get involved helping others.  No matter the situation, always try to look for the light that is shining through the darkness.

Gratitude

One of the ways to see the positive in a situation is by connecting to gratitude.  Start by reminding yourself of the things for which you are grateful.  For instance, be grateful for food, shelter, friends, trees, flowers, etc.  Express gratitude out loud, in writing, or in your mind for anything that sustains you or brings joy into your life.

Once you can see all the blessings that surround you, it is often possible to expand your awareness and see nuggets of good in other things.

Forgiveness

One of the keys to being able to express gratitude in a negative situation is to forgive those involved in the situation.  It doesn’t justify or nullify what happened.  It is simply that you no longer hold energy and emotion toward the situation.  Once you truly forgive, you can move forward and find something good in what happened. 

Self-Care

Self-Care, of which forgiveness is one aspect, is especially important in times of uncertainty.  Consider pampering yourself a bit.  That can include spending time doing a hobby, reading, getting a massage, meditating, or getting another form of energy treatment.

Self-care helps you stay healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.  A healthy you is more able to deal with the uncertainty and take positive steps to move forward. 

Releasing

To stay as healthy as possible, let go of emotions and feelings about things you cannot control.  Given that you will never be able to control the actions of other people, companies, or organizations, you might as well release any anger and frustration you have with their actions.

You can still dislike their actions.  However, letting go of the need to be in control and the feelings that come along when you aren’t will help you to remain present and work through the situation.

Staying Focused

Keeping a schedule and maintaining a routine are good techniques to help keep your focus and stay present.  Additionally, any time that you find yourself feeling emotional, withdrawn, or stressed, remember to breathe.  A few deep breaths before a response to a stressful situation can be very calming for yourself and for the situation overall.

Grounding

If you find your thoughts or emotions wandering out of the current moment, focus on your breathing.  In addition to breathing, a grounding exercise, where you attempt to identify five things you can see, touch, taste, smell, and hear will help bring you back to the present. 

Meditation

Meditation is also a great way to ground yourself, regain your focus, and return to the present.  There are many alternatives including sitting quietly, listening to guided meditations, listening to music-based meditations, coloring books, Tai Chi, Yoga, and walking.

Additionally, there are many other grounding techniques that help you connect with the earth.  You can envision roots growing out of your feet into the earth, walk barefoot in the grass, or firmly plant your feet on the floor.

Support Network

Lastly, in times of uncertainty make sure to create or maintain your support network.  Just knowing people are there if you need them will make a difference and help you move forward.

All of these techniques can be used daily to maintain your focus and remain mindful in both times of certainty and uncertainty.  Many people find that regular practice of these techniques helps them live a fuller life focused in the present.  Give them a try and see what works for you!