Dealing with Uncertainty

Without question, these are uncertain times. Daily routines, work lives, economic conditions and social lives have been uprooted and disrupted. Homes now serve as offices, school rooms, infirmaries, and personal gyms. We don’t know when we will get our normal lives back again.
Because there is so much we can’t control at this time, it’s important to notice and act on the things that we can. The following are things you can do to calm your nervous system, take control of your environment, and deal with these uncertain times in a constructive manner:
• Create order in small areas that you can control
Uncertainty can feel chaotic. To manage the chaos, it’s important to take small actions that provide order to your life: Get up at a regular hour, make your bed, dress for work, continue your workout routine (even if you have to modify it), plan meals, coordinate with family members when scheduling your day.
• Do things to calm your nervous system
Think of your emotions as energy-in-motion. To release anxiety, you want to do things that let the energy of anxiety move through your body. Physical activity or home workouts can really help here. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation exercises are also good. Activities like cooking, singing, playing music, playing games, making art or building things can help your brain relax.
• Stay informed but don’t drown in information
Uncertainty makes us crave control. One way you may strive for control is by tracking every piece of news that comes out about CoVid-19 on social media, online news, or TV. Information overload will make you more anxious, not less. Limits on news consumption (checking in the morning, mid-day, and at end of day) will help your brain rest – which it needs to come up with clever solutions to uncertain times.
• Look for ways to be of service
Helping, assisting, caring for others is a very concrete tool for calming your mind and lifting your spirits during times of uncertainty. With social distancing and self-quarantining, the kind of help you can offer may not be “hands on” but it still counts. Phone calls to people living alone or elderly friends/family can make a difference. Video chats with friends who need to connect. Cooking meals for others that can be dropped at their homes. Reach out in some way, and offer to help. It will give you a sense of purpose and control.
• Work at being present
Being present means you are not running forward trying to predict the worst-case scenario nor are you glancing backward focusing on what you, your business, or your government should have done differently. Being present means you look at where you are today, appreciate what you have, and take small, concrete actions to live your life as well as you can. Being present can be very challenging during uncertain times, but it allows you to deal with the current reality from a non-hysterical place.
• Practice gratitude for simple things

Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools you can use during uncertain times. Gratitude allows you to see what you have and what’s working rather than focusing on what you may lose and what isn’t working. You can be grateful for your food, your morning cup of coffee, your smart phone, your bed. List three things you are grateful at the beginning of every day and share that list with a friend.

Katherine Crowley – Career Therapist and co-owner of K Squared Enterprises.

Contact us at with any questions or for further help around this topic.

What he said…

This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson is so beautiful, it needs to be its own meditation:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Giving Yourself Credit

Ever notice yourself wanting more credit or recognition or appreciation from others for your hard work? Ever resent the people who have no problem patting themselves on the back or bragging about their accomplishments?

Building your own sense of value and confidence at work is an ongoing exercise. This is especially true if you work for someone who is highly demanding or extremely critical. It may also be true if you work for a company that expects everyone to bend over backwards to meet its goals

Today, try giving yourself credit for the things you wish someone else would appreciate. If you finish a report ahead of schedule, pat yourself on the back. If you field numerous customer complaints, acknowledge the skill and patience it took to do that. If you solve a major glitch in a software program, stand up and take a bow.

Taking a moment to savor your successes will increase you enjoyment at work. If you’re too busy to notice what you accomplished during the day, take a moment after work to write down three things you did right.

Yes, it would be better if the people you work for were more appreciative, but don’t let that stop you from taking in the good.

30 seconds of gratitude

If you’re in a situation that is stressful or you work with someone who really bothers you, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong, and difficult to remember what’s right. Gratitude can be a powerful weapon in the battle against emotional heartburn at work.

Not sappy gratitude for things you don’t really care about; Not imposed gratitude from someone else’s list (as in “you should be happy you have a job.”) What counts is True Gratitude for the people and things that you appreciate.

You know, that parking attendant who always greets you with a smile, or your favorite coffee bar. Maybe you’re grateful for an easy commute, or thankful for a favorite song that you hear playing.

Consciously practicing gratitude can alleviate all kinds of stress. Why? Because an attitude of gratitude puts you in the NOW. It allows you to pause and appreciate what is — instead of bemoaning what isn’t. And what we focus on does tend to build. Today, try just 30 seconds of gratitude. Just 30 seconds of appreciating what is good in your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Rain Man

I was running late this morning (rain pouring, subways down, bus late) so when I arrived at Port Authority, I quickly grabbed a cab for the final leg of my commute.

Once in the cab, the driver noticed that I seemed thrown by the rain. “People are never happy with what the weather is doing,” he remarked.”When it rains they complain about being wet. When it snows they say ‘Oh God’. Even when it’s sunny they complain about the heat.”

He had my attention because he was right. “What we need to do is think about the rain and how it makes drinking water, and feeds the earth, and keeps things alive. We need to be grateful for rain and for things we can’t see… like breath.”

Now he really had my attention.

My Rain Man taxi driver then reminded me that life is a gift, and I should appreciate everything i have; consider the benefit of every kind of weather. He even told me to be grateful for my looks. “You’re pretty cute, you know. That makes people want to talk to you.”

Thank you Rain Man for brightening my day and putting my focus where it belongs — on gratitude.