Tips to keep things under control in uncertain times

Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

Q: Over the last few months I have felt a lack of control in some areas of my life. Not being sure what will happen to my company is causing me a lot of stress and unease. It is hard to concentrate and be productive not knowing what’s coming next. Any suggestions? (BC, email).

A: The new reality is taking its toll on all of us. It is testing our ability to bounce back, adapt and survive. But maybe we are not looking at it from the right perspective, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

“We live in especially uncertain times” – we’ve been saying this for months now. I am guilty of doing so. I guess it’s an attempt to describe the unknown and maybe make it sound important. It’s not helping.

Author Oliver Burkeman provides a good insight when he writes “the future is always uncertain; it’s just we’re currently very aware of it”. Many things have changed, but an important one is our awareness. We have changed our thinking. Being unsure about what is going to happen has taken centre stage.

When we worry about the unknown our body uses its ‘fight or flight response’. Inbuilt in us since ‘cave time’, it is supposed to protect us from threat.  It is important to understand what happens to us as we experience physical and emotional responses. We can get into a state of extreme thinking where we fear the worst.

But what can we do to ease those feelings and feel more in control?

Here are a few steps:

  1. Think about facts in terms of the likelihood of something actually happening. Be practical and look for evidence. It’s okay not to know what’s imminent. What’s important is how you manage it. Ask yourself: how likely is my role to be made redundant? What are my options if that happens? Who can I contact for an honest conversation?
  2. Make a list of all worries. This will make some real and some not. Assign strategies to deal with each of them in detail. That will make you accountable and will show what you can and cannot do.
  3. Concentrate on what you can change not on what you can’t control. Even in the worst-case scenario, we have some kind of control. It can just be our attitude to live in that particular situation. We can make the decision about how we will react.
  4. Trust your own resources. What specific actions can you take to resolve those issues? What has helped you in the past? Which resources do you have to overcome that particular problem? What are you missing and how can you get it?
  5. Allow time to recharge and rest. Looking after yourself – eating well, drinking water and sleeping enough hours – will aid energy levels. It will also bring more creative solutions.
  6. Look for positive people in your life and reach out to them, even if it’s just on Zoom. Share what’s on your mind. Ask questions. What’s their approach? Have they experienced something similar? What did they do about it?
  7. Schedule worry-free time every day and do something you love.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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