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It is said that nothing is certain in life besides death and taxes. Let’s add one more item to the list, shall we? Uncertainty. While this addition might seem obvious, it’s important to acknowledge the uncertainty of life. When things are uncertain in terms of finances, health, relationships, or anything really, we can become anxious, withdrawn, and our health can even suffer.

Lately, life seems more uncertain than ever. Many people are out of work or still working from home; people are feeling isolated from friends and family members due to caution about COVID, or because of differences in philosophies or political beliefs. With so many changes and uncertainty, it’s difficult to know where tomorrow will lead (let alone next year!).

How can we confront the uncertainty of life? I recommend starting with the following four approaches, and going from there.*

*“Going from there” might mean seeking support from a qualified therapist or counselor. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you need it!

1. Be Kind to Yourself

When you’re attempting to deal with feelings of uncertainty, it’s important to be gentle with yourself and take your time. It doesn’t pay to ignore your feelings or push through when you truly need to pause, take a meaningful break, and/or recenter yourself. Acknowledge that uncertainty is inevitable, and it has always been part of your life in one way or another. When you were a child, you often had to release control while adults made decisions. In your adult life, you’ve never been able to control things such as the weather, the influences of your genetics, or other people’s feelings/reactions toward you. Remind yourself that you are strong, you have overcome past uncertainties, and you will continue to overcome uncertainties.

2. Redirect Your Energy

It is completely fine to enjoy a healthy distraction from your present woes. Sometimes it’s helpful to occupy your body and/or mind by regularly engaging in meaningful activities. Try learning a new language, baking, painting, or simply catch up on your reading list. Exercise is also a great way to distract yourself from current troubles and gain some positive endorphins and muscle while you’re at it! I believe there is a form of exercise for everyone, whether walking, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, or cycling.

3. Connect with Others

You are not alone, and you are not the only one who has struggled lately. Even though the feelings associated with uncertainty—anxiety, sadness, fear, anger, etc.—can seem very private, it’s not healthy to let those feelings take control and lead you to become isolated or withdrawn. Before you reach this point, reach out! Connect with friends or family members. Seek the camaraderie of a club, volunteer organization, or church group. Just being around people you enjoy can have a positive effect.

4. Take Meaningful Breaks

Taking a break is not a sign of weakness. Sometimes it’s absolutely necessary. Rest when you need to; step away from your work when you need to. And if you are completely burnt out, it may be time to take an extended break or sabbatical. Many workplaces would rather grant an extended leave than going through the process of hiring and training a new person. If your workplace refuses to give you time off (or, if you don’t envision a positive future in your workplace), it may be time to make a change.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE. 

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