Jeannie Herman, LPC, NCC
Sitting with Uncertainty
Over the last couple of years, we have all been given a crash course in navigating uncertainty. Covid, illness and death, political and social divisiveness, economic disaster, homelessness, lack of healthcare, high rates of suicide and fatal overdose, devastating fires and climate disaster…and the direct effect that all of these factors have had on us individually and in our communities. Considering it all, it actually pretty incredible that we are doing ok at all. Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have our lives, an income, and a place to live are still under strain of wondering what the next day will bring. We watch as the markets crash, covid assistance funds are no longer available and businesses are drying up due to lack of staffing and regulations due to covid. We don’t know where we are headed.
How are we coping? Denial, temporary transcendence, substances, dissociation, distraction… or generally just not coping. Depression, panic, suicidal thoughts… Many healthy coping skills and self-care have been thrown out the window due to covid: spending time with supportive friends, getting a massage, going out dancing, joining a meet-up group…
I am not going to give some kind of theory about gratitude (though it is a helpful practice), or reframing, shifting your perspective, or examining negative thoughts. After spending my lifetime studying health and wellness, and the last decade working with hundreds of clients as a psychotherapist, I am going to say “I don’t know.” What has worked for you in the past and what is working for you now? It is going to be different for each individual, as we are all so unique. What do your good days, or nights, look like? Keep track of the factors and behaviors that contribute to feeling ok, or even good. Keep track of the factors and behaviors that contribute to you feeling lousy, depressed, or anxious.
Let’s keep this simple. Take a piece of paper, or white board, draw a ling down the middle, label one column “helpful” and the other column “harmful” and over a week or so add to the list. Some things that make me feel balanced are dancing (by myself at home in a sexy outfit in front of the mirror LOL), walking in nature, going to the bar and seeing my friends, spirulina smoothies, juicing, bathing, looking at the frost on the windows, and writing. Some things that I have noticed send me into a downward spiral or drain me are worrying (about work, insurance reimbursements, my relationship, loved one’s health, death, finding a more fulfilling purpose and whether I will be successful or not…), sitting still for too long (laying on the couch for hours), talking with certain people on the phone, drinking coffee, overeating…
Make an effort to do more of the things that support you and less of the things that harm you. This simple observation of self and shift in patterns will help you to have an increased sense of self- empowerment which will help you to cope with the uncertainty that exists. For some people learning to trust and go with the flow will be helpful, for others that is not possible and could even be harmful considering certain circumstances. The point is to create your own self-care plan based on what you know about yourself, not what a random click bait article tells you will help and ultimately lead you to feeling shameful because it did not help. Good luck, you got this!