Managing life in the face of uncertainty

Life is precious and each new day is an opportunity to have a fresh start. If we start the day with the thought that it is a unique day and are hopeful about the way that we will spend it, this can help us to be more peaceful, think clearly and more able to respond with resilience, even in difficult times.


Making a routine can establish some boundaries and enable us to manage our time well. Perhaps consider what the most important thing is and do that first. The way that we start the day, right from when we open our eyes in the morning, can make a difference to our mood, focus and expectation. Consider what your energy levels are like and do the most difficult things when your energy level is at its highest.

For some people, spending the early part of the day being quiet - reflecting, meditating, praying, being still, noticing the beauty of nature - can bring peace to their inner being. For others, doing some exercise early in the day can be a great way to look after themselves. When we are still within we are better able to manage our time and our mood. This helps not only our own well-being but makes a difference in our relationships with other people. Notice what is going well and what there is to be thankful for.

At the moment for many people, their usual routine has changed and they are finding that they are working from home with the whole of their family present. It is so important to communicate well with your family and negotiate new routines (preferably before everyone is stressed and fed-up). Do take time for yourself - this is not selfish but a crucial part of your self-care.

The time we have now is all we have - we may all be looking forward to returning to our 'normal routine' but it will not help us if we focus on that to the detriment of the present time. We may feel frustrated, angry, disempowered and fearful. This is normal - it is important to process this and then consider what it is that we are able to do in the here and now.

How is social distancing affecting relationships?

When you back away from someone and notice fear in your gut why not reframe that as 'it is good to see another person'. It will not be good for our health if we start to think that every other human being is a danger to us. Yes, we need to follow the guidelines but a smile and hello can really brighten our day and someone else's too. We never know what that other person is going through.

It's fascinating that not so long ago we were being encouraged to minimise the time that we spend on our devices. Yet now it seems that everyone is on Zoom or Facetime. It is wonderful that we have these ways of seeing other people face-to-face. However, as always, balance is vital.

I suspect that our levels of anxiety are up so when we see another person on Zoom or Facetime we want to make the most of it and are excited and also sad that we can't see them in 'real-life' at the moment. So yes, of course, stay in touch but try not to get 'Zoomed-out.' Being on screens can bring a tiredness that is very different from the tiredness we feel when we have had a balanced day going out, meeting other people, doing our work, exercise etc.

How you are nourishing yourself?

What are you feeding your mind and body on? Don't gorge on bad news - do limit how much of it you take in. Also, be mindful of feeding things into your mind and body that are healthy.

It may seem as though life is frozen and we are waiting for someone else (the WHO or Government?) to unfreeze it. We still have our lives to live and they are more precious than ever as we all face and navigate a situation which has many uncertainties in it. None of us likes living with uncertainty, yet this is part of life and we need to learn to manage it as best as we can. 

We may all be feeling a variety of responses - numb, denial, shocked, frightened, stressed, angry, sad, lonely to name a few.  These are normal responses to collective and personal grief. Self-compassion and self-care are absolutely crucial. Your life matters and so do the lives of other people.

I want to acknowledge those on the front line of the current worldwide crisis, taking care of other people, whose stress and anxiety take on a level that is hard to imagine. Yet self-care is still so vital if we are to survive mentally and physically. We cannot continue to push ourselves to the limit without burnout and breakdown. Sadly, we are seeing more and more of this in the news. There are many people quietly working away supporting other people in all walks of life. Your work is crucial and it is essential that you look after yourself and make sure that you have a good support network. If you don't have one please find one.

This crisis will come to an end. Let's take one day at a time, one step at a time, looking after ourselves and other people as best as we can, wherever we are and in whatever situation we find ourselves. We all have a vital part to play in life - perhaps we are gradually realising this more and more.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Godalming GU7 & Weybridge KT13
Written by Stella Goddard, BA (Hons) Registered MBACP (Accred)
Godalming GU7 & Weybridge KT13

Stella Goddard is an Accredited Counsellor who has extensive clinical experience. She is more aware than ever of the link between our mental and physical health and the importance of self-compassion, kindness and self-care.

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