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Thriving when life is uncertain – 3 essential practices

Photo by Gift Habeshaw

We are living in a time of chronic uncertainty. For working parents, there is the uncertainty of how this crisis will affect our businesses or organisations. Not knowing when schooling will return to normal or what mood each of my children will be in today. The juggling of needs between work commitments and the family. The emotional rollercoaster of sharing life so intensely. Worry about relatives or friends. Figuring out what the latest guidance is on what we can and cannot do. It goes on.

 

There are some practices we can develop for thriving when life is uncertain. In this article I share some of my reflections and strategies for adjusting.

How can we live well when life is uncertain? How can we thrive?

I want to share the things that have helped me in the hope they might help you too.

 

1. Find your ‘anchor’ amidst the storm

 

An anchor on a boat keeps it steady regardless of whether there is a storm or the sea is still. In life we need anchors that will ground us when life is uncertain. Regular, consistent practices that nurture us such as prayer, meditation, creativity or being out in nature. Or connecting with your core purpose and intention each day. The specific anchor will be different for each person.

 

In life we need anchors that will ground us when life is uncertain. Regular, consistent practices that nurture us such as prayer, meditation, creativity or being out in nature. Click To Tweet

For me my anchor is my faith nurtured by daily practices of meditation and tai chi. Also, two key questions that I keep coming back to:
What is important now?
What is mine to do?

I do meditation and tai chi at the same time each day and these questions are ones that I frequently come back to whenever I feel myself getting wound up throughout the day.

 

Finding your anchor can be as simple as creating a bit of down time to go for a walk each day. Or sitting outside for 5 minutes while you listen to the birds. Or a five minute meditation practice. The important thing is to start with something small and achievable so that you can be consistent. Creating little rituals and routines can be really helpful here.

 

Consistency with self-care helps to calm the nervous system, even if it is only for five minutes a day. For more ideas around this, my 5 minute self-care guide is a good starting place.

 

2. Reframe the situation 

 

I find it helpful to stop and reframe the situation. Reframing is about noticing the negative, life-draining thoughts and directly challenging them by looking for the positive opportunity.

 

This is a tough situation. However, whenever I really stop and think about this, I realise that the moments in my life that have been the toughest have also been the most fertile ground for growth and learning. I didn’t want them. I didn’t chose them, but I learned loads from them.

 

I realise that the moments in my life that have been the toughest have also been the most fertile ground for growth and learning. I didn’t want them. I didn’t chose them, but I learned loads from them. Click To Tweet

 

Some examples from my own story. It’s hard being in the same space with my partner and children 24/7. However, my bigger purpose in life is to become a more loving and kinder human being. What better opportunity than being thrown in with my family and having everything else stripped away?!

 

I have found it difficult to accept the limits on my time over the past three months since the schools closed their doors. My hours available for work pretty much halved overnight. At the same time, it’s been an opportunity to notice what is possible in shorter amount of time, to learn to manage my time more efficiently and to let go of what is not really important.

 

I’m doing too many things with work and need to get better focus. What better chance to get super focused than having my working hours cut in half?

 

Reframing is both a choice and a skill that gets easier with practice. A simple exercise that can retrain your brain for reframing is to write down three things you are thankful for each day in a gratitude journal.

 

If you were to reframe this crisis, what opportunities does it offer for you?

 

3. Get support from others 

 

I believe that one of the most underrated things that we can put in place for ourselves is the support of others who will listen empathically and without judgement to what we have to say.

 

When life seems hard to manage and we get overwhelmed or irritable, it’s not that we are inherently a failure. Often, it is simply that we don’t have the support in place that we need at that moment.  

 

Our culture values independence, privacy and individuality. And yet as a species we are primed to thrive in relationship with others. Life-giving relationships in which we get the support we need are essential for thriving when life is uncertain.

 

Our culture values independence, privacy and individuality. And yet as a species we are primed to thrive in relationship with others. Life-giving relationships in which we get the support we need are essential for thriving when… Click To Tweet

 

Several of my female clients who are successful leaders have said to me that coaching is one of the few places that they can truly be themselves, warts and all, and know that they won’t be judged. Just this week, one client said to me, “I think everyone needs coaching, it’s just so helpful.”

 

“Isn’t all this a bit self-indulgent?”, some people say. “Don’t we just need to get on with it ourselves?. This used to be my attitude too. Looking after ourselves by getting support is never self-indulgent though. It is a wise use of our time and resources. There have been many times where I’ve been procrastinating or battling brain fog and a single session with my coach has cleared the way for huge productivity and focus.

 

Whether or not we recognise it, we all need support from people who will see us and help us reach our full potential. It’s an incredibly liberating thing to be seen and heard and to know that we are held in that space with full acceptance. We can put this support in place in a number of ways. Coaching, counselling or therapy, twelve step programmes, business support groups or simply chatting to good friends who ‘get’ us are a few examples.

 

However you set it up, make sure you put in place the support you need to be thriving when life is uncertain.

 

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