Updated: Mar 9
This piece was adapted for The Metro
For a few people "uncertainty" can be quite thrilling - not knowing what is coming next can bring a sense of excitement and positive anticipation. This is usually only the case in those who know their basic needs are going to be met no matter what. If we are struggling physically and financially, uncertainly can bring with it additional mental and emotional pressure.
While some things are out of our control, there are ways in which we can reclaim our agency and create a buffer to stress...just remember that while there really is magic in the (fresh) air, you need to experience it regularly to see lasting changes...much like any treatment where you work at addressing the root causes rather than the symptoms alone!
Know your financial and physical bottom line
Financial health, as I have noted in a previous post is an oft overlooked element of wellbeing. It is not that we need an excess of money, but unless we can meet our needs to survive, it becomes very difficult to think about anything else except getting through the day.
And, if you feel physically vulnerable or at risk:
If you're a little off kilter because the last two years have thrown you for six, try the following little nudges to see if they help you get back on track:
Dealing with potential disappointment
Last year the rug was pulled out from beneath us when Christmas was “cancelled” for many, this year we are fearing the “turkey shortage” or the “crisp shortage” and hoping it will not be exacerbated by panic buying.
Unfortunately the health situation is constantly changing and disappointments may happen.
In the case things do go wrong:
- It’s OK to be upset. Please don’t get bogged down by #firstworldproblems – we all have a right to feel as we do…don’t add guilt to sadness!
- Be aware of alternatives – of course it won’t be the same, but last year we had “drive by birthdays”, “doorstep deliveries” and online festivities…at least you get to see and speak with one another.
We role model coping mechanisms and tools to others – and who you are outweighs the parties you throw.
Keeping yourself positive:
Consider a SAD lamp/sun lamp to supplement the sunshine and stimulate vitamin D production; and of course, get out into the fresh air when you can. This is time old advice, but regular exposure to the natural elements takes advantage of our brain’s neuroplasticity, stimulating serotonin as well as oxygenating the brain, and doing this with friends will produce oxytocin – the “Bonding” hormone too.
Burnout may be seen as an exhaustion response to constant pressure…and it often results in people wanting to throw everything in and embark on an “Eat Pray Love” journey which is often impractical at best, impossible more often. To relieve some unnecessary stress:
A) Know what you want to achieve
o Write down what YOU need in order to feel great
o Note on a scale of 1-10 how well you are meeting those needs (and see where the gaps are)
B) Know the type of people you want in your life
o As a mini gratitude practice (which if done regularly has proven benefits in terms of our physical and mental health) think about
§ One person you love
§ One thing you love
…and do this every day for a week – you will see some things and people always show up, some do not. Make a note of that.
C) Set boundaries
“No” is a complete sentence, but if you aren’t keen try:
§ “I can help but only between x and y”
§ “I’d love to, but I can’t…however try x”
§ “I’ll tell you later.” (this buys you time to decide if you really want to do whatever it is, and to think of a reason not to)
Ci) With said spare time (through setting boundaries)
o Spend it on filling the gaps you’ve identified in A
o Actively seek out spending time with the people or doing the things which energise and excite you identified in B
https://universitycompare.com/guides/students-managing-anxiety/ (A support guide for students)
Dr Audrey Tang is a chartered psychologist and author with a specialty in the "how to take action", rather than just giving explanation and advice. Listen to her podcast Retrain Your Brain here; and catch her practical masterclasses Psych Back to Basics on DisruptiveTV & Energy Top Up for resilience. For self development tools based within positive psychology: click Her YouTube Channel . Twitter/IG @draudreyt