For most of us, our daily lives have been disrupted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and the resulting shelter-in-place order.
Work, social and family life has been upended in ways we may never have imagined. Life may feel unsettled as an air of uncertainty hangs over us. It’s natural to feel out of control given the significance of these life changes.
What makes us feel out of control, however, varies by person. For some, the uncertain nature of the stock market may strike the strongest nerve. For others, it might be the threat to the health and well-being of our family. And for others, job loss and the lack of ability to pay for basic living expenses hits the hardest.
We all react to feelings of powerlessness in different ways. Some become panicked, some become depressed, some stressed, some confused. Some get angry.
Some become Pollyanna-ish, putting a positive spin on everything, even things that call for sadness or discouragement.
It’s so interesting the way the human mind works in each of us, with such variety.
If you are feeling out of control, now is a great time to take back some power so that you may be able to manage through this situation with less stress.
Control can be defined as the power to make decisions about how something is managed or done.
So, what can we make decisions about that will bring us some sense of control?
Make the decision to stick to your good habits during this time of uncertainty—exercising, eating healthy, painting, writing, taking photos, singing, meditating, reading to your grandkids (via phone or video) and so on.
Good habits are powerful because they release pleasure chemicals in the brain. Don’t let stress derail your positive habits and you will feel better in the long run.
Go and do a good deed. Help a neighbor, support a charity, share your toilet paper, check in on a friend, volunteer. Did you ever hear of a “helper’s high”? It’s the rush of good feelings that come after you have helped others.
Next, focus on the good in your life. What is going right? Maybe you are forced to stay at home. If so, what brings you joy in your home environment?
Is there a space in your home that brings you happiness? Do you treasure relaxing in your backyard in a favorite spot? Maybe you enjoy spending time with your pet, or perhaps being with your partner brings you comfort. There is always something that you have right now that’s just right. Make a list of those things and revel in them.
Disciplined, goal-oriented people feel better when they have a plan in place. Since chance and uncertainty can make them feel powerless, the more plans they make the more it may help them alleviate helpless feelings.
For these individuals, any time spent not achieving ambitions is wasted and may cause anxiety. Planning may be as simple as charting a to-do list for the day, and it may be as big as developing a next career step, retirement plan or financial strategy.
Lastly, consider how this situation helps you grow. Every experience is a life lesson. What has this unprecedented situation taught you? How will it impact the way you interact with the world as you move forward?
Take time to give thought to where you (and we as a world) are today and what you have done or maybe want to do as a result.
As you contemplate how you have grown, you may discover you feel wiser, emotionally stronger and perhaps have gained some newfound knowledge or skill in an area you knew nothing about before.
While working through this serious global event, give yourself credit for every step you take to move forward. Acknowledge your achievements and regain trust in yourself as well as the amazing people around the world who are doing their best to create a healthier and safer place.