It goes without saying, we are in uncertain times.  Most of us have never been here before — and hope, if we are being honest, to never be here again.  Uncertainty is not welcomed by most.  It makes us nervous/anxious/worried and feels very uncomfortable.  Especially if you are a person who gravitates towards control and likes things to be known.  If that isn’t you, then great.  Please teach the rest of us how you navigate these times.  But if you are like me, you might be feeling uneasy with this uncertainty.

I learned over the past couple of years a lot about how we as humans respond to life transitions and the one thing that really jumps out at me is it is hard to move through unknown territory.  When I got divorced, I didn’t know how to get divorced.  I didn’t know how to be divorced.  I didn’t know what comes next.  My life shifted and did not go back to how it was before.

I do not believe that we are in a time where life won’t largely go back to how it was before.  Yes, we will have changes and scars from this experience, but we will likely gravitate back to what was our normal.  And yet, this feels like a big life shift.

“We are experiencing the stages of grief because we have lost how life was.”

We are experiencing the stages of grief because we have lost how life was.  I believe the feelings are similar to a big life shift and it is because of uncertainty.  How do we move through uncertain times and keep our wits about us?

  • We have jobs to do in new virtual environments.
  • We have kids at home ALL THE TIME who need to be fed AND educated.
  • We may feel fearful of leaving our homes.

How do we continue to show up as good versions of ourselves?  Below are four strategies I really lean on for some level of stability and certainty in uncertain times.

  1. The Daily Hug
  2. Habits and Routines
  3. Give Yourself a Minute
  4. Complete The Cycle

 

Oxytocin

Our bodies know what they are doing.  When we are in states of stress and uncertainty, our bodies crave togetherness.  Don’t believe me – look at your behaviors.  What do we do when we are stressed, we vent to others, we cling to another in embraces, we lament together, we long for connection. Getting this connection in a time of self-isolation and stay at home orders can be very tricky, but we are not without resources.

Sure, we can have all the virtual happy hours and dinners that our schedules can take.  If you are like me, this isn’t enough.  I need the physical touch of another – yes, someone who is notoriously known as a “non-hugger” yearns for a hug.  Why is this?  One word: oxytocin.

Oxytocin is the hormone our body produces when we feel loved, connected, together.  Our stress hormones are functioning just fine right now so let’s boast our natural antidote.

Tip #1The Daily Hug

If someone happens to be in your quarantine circle, start implementing a 30 second daily hug. Heck, do it more than once a day!  Set a timer if you must (I must) but hug for at least 30 seconds. This is the amount of time our bodies need to start producing oxytocin.  Also, a 6 second kiss helps.

In isolation alone?  You are not without hope!  You can give a self-hug by wrapping your arms around your self and reaching for opposite shoulder blades for 30 seconds.  Give yourself a foot massage or rub your scalp or neck for at least 30 seconds.  Provide your own oxytocin!  Let’s this love molecule wash over you and enjoy the effects.  When they wear off, go in for that second hug.

 

Habits

I found myself at the beginning of our stay at home order surprisingly energized. Finally, I would have time to do more reading, yoga, cooking, watching TV shows I have been waiting to see, projects we have been needing to complete.  I had a similar feeling that we can get at the beginning of a New Year.  And like a New Year’s Resolution, my excitement has started to fade already.  Each day can feel like Groundhog Day and I must slog through the monotony to find some motivation.

Today, I came to terms with the fact that the motivation won’t carry me through this.  I need to fall back onto habits – ones that I already have established and ones I need to build. The great thing about habits is we do them regardless of how we feel.  I don’t often get excited or motivated to brush my teeth, but I do it anyway.

Tip #2: Habits and routines

If built properly, habits and routines are what gets us from point A to point B so often.  If we plan to rely solely on motivation or excitement, we plan to fail.  Wondering more about habit-building?  Check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

The Power of Habit Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12609433-the-power-of-habit?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=k9hRhLplKO&rank=1

Atomic Habits Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40121378-atomic-habits?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=mUT7CPXifo&rank=1

 

Feelings

You are not your feelings.  Ok, that is a great sentence, but what? I am not my feelings. Well, it sure FEELS like it!  Even for someone like me who does not often lead with feelings, there are a lot of feels happening right now.  And I find myself overwhelmed by my feelings.  I feel sad, angry, scared, hopeful, blah, loved, nervous, etc.  It’s like a rainbow of emotions and this can all happen in one day.

How do we sort through these feelings?  We don’t.  We sit with them like we would sit with a crying friend and just wait.

Tip #3: Give Yourself A Minute

Wait for the emotion of the moment to pass.  Greet feelings with kindness and understanding.  Sit with them.  This too shall pass.  It is important to not give your feelings the wheel but invite them on the drive.  They belong here but they are not in charge.

 

Completing the Stress Cycle

In the book Burnout by Emily Nagosaki, Ph.D., and Amelia Nagoski, DMA, Emily and Amelia talk about the importance of completing the stress cycles in our lives.  Look, we cannot get rid of all the stress.  It is just not possible and the sooner we acknowledge that and move on from trying to rid our lives of stress and using the stress for the positive, the better off we will be.

Burnout Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42397849-burnout

One thing that is vital in the process of using stress for good is completing the cycles of stress we experience.  If we do not complete the cycles, then we are just stuck in the stress.  I don’t need to explain being stuck in stress because if you are anything like me, you are there right now.

Tip #4: Complete The Cycle

Let’s focus on what completes the cycle for us.  Maybe it is a good cry?  Ever had one of those cries where you lose your breath and look real ugly afterward?  Yes, one of those cries!  You felt better afterward, didn’t you?  It is because whatever stress caused the cry was completed by the crying.  If crying isn’t your thing, then you might be one to move out of stress.  Literally and physically.

Bonus Tip: Get Moving — Moving our bodies and doing a workout is probably the most common way people complete the stress cycle.  Others meditate, some like yoga, maybe you bake or cook or read or get a massage or take a shower.  The point is there are many ways to complete the stress cycle, but we must be awake enough to see the stress and know what will complete the cycle for us.  Make time for that completion of the cycle especially now.  Not feeling motivated? You might not.(See the habits section above.)

It is ok if you are feeling a lot from all the uncertainty.  It means you are alive.  My hope is you found something here that can help you create a space of certainty in these times.  Remember, this, too, shall pass – these are not permanent times.  Need to talk? We are here for you!

 

The Power of Habit Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12609433-the-power-of-habit?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=k9hRhLplKO&rank=1

Atomic Habits Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40121378-atomic-habits?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=mUT7CPXifo&rank=1

Burnout Book Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42397849-burnout

Jessi Chadd, M.S.F.S, CFP®, CeFT®, is a Principal at Aspyre Wealth Partners, specializing in life transitions. For help with your specific situation contact Jessi Chadd, at jchadd@aspyrewealth.com (913) 345-1881 or visit our website at AspyreWealth.com. We help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in.

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