3 Strategies for Finding Your Feet in Times of Uncertainty
Is it just me or does it feel like the pace of change in today’s world has a hit a fever pitch?
It doesn’t feel like it is just me.
Relationship shifts, job changes, moving house – all the big stuff. All of us are under the pump to do this kind of thing waaaaaay more often than any previous generation. A bit of change is great – we all want a little variety at least – but a lot of change can sometimes just feel like too much.
Often too, it is the outcome of the change that is great but the changing-ing – the transition, the time of uncertainty and unknown, is pretty tough. Super smart scientist (neuroscientist actually) Marc Lewis, summarised the results of a stress study performed in 2016 in an interesting and readable Guardian article (seriously, this guy makes brain science accessible!). Evidence emerged to show that uncertainty is our most stressful state – even more so than knowing the outcome will be negative!
So what to do?
First things first, while a stressed out state (adrenaline pumping etc) helps us take action, if it doesn’t switch off we’ll likely experience the wear and tear effects on the body and mind of an overstimulated nervous system. Also, it’s survival-based action we’ll be focussed on which isn’t necessarily what we want – we want to be able to think through things clearly. So, it’s helpful if we can learn to SLOW DOWN. As Osteopaths we believe that assisting the body to ‘switch off’ some of the physical stress responses can help to reduce general stress throughout out system (think the other stuff like rushing, anxiety and grumpiness etc).
Secondly, if we are in the midst of stormy uncertainty – like the tried and true metaphor of the tree – we’ll survive it better if our roots are firmly in the GROUND. Luckily, practices for getting grounded are pretty easy – take off the shoes and go for a walk in the sand at beach or on the grass at the park. Even just being aware (while talking with someone) of the sensations of your feet touching the ground can help you feel more grounded (I like to think about this as though my head is full of excess electricity that can be channeled safely with the proper ‘earthing’ so it won’t fly out and be dangerous to anyone!).
And finally, learning to accept the reality of “what is” is a pretty handy skill. It seems like these days “uncertainty is” here to stay and will likely continue that way. The help here? BREATHE! There are a tonne of resources out there for this but even the simple “box breathing” – inhale for four counts (full deep breath) hold for four counts and exhale for four counts can help you get you started.
Slowing down, grounding and taking a deep breath can go a long way in helping us to accept the situation we are in and even learn to embrace that uncertainty! While uncertainty can be tough, change and transitions can often be a good or necessary thing after all:
We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are. – Anonym