We live in times of great uncertainty, and it is taking a toll on all of us. For many people, not knowing exactly what the future holds creates fear and anxiety and leaves them feeling depressed, desperate, and worried. I believe we weren’t meant to live life this way.
While we all must live with a certain amount of uncertainty, it is unhealthy to become so enmeshed in circumstances beyond our control that we lose ourselves in the grips of despair. It’s true that we can’t know what the future will hold, but I believe we can find peace and joy in the present moment by learning to tune into our own needs, by being generous and kind to our fellow man, and by—in our own small way—making the world a better and more beautiful place.
If uncertainty is undermining your sense of well-being, I promise that you can restore balance to your life and find happiness once again. Below are some of my favorite tips to help you face moments of uncertainty and find your way to a place of personal peace.
First, get comfortable with uncertainty. Change truly is the only constant we can rely upon. Therefore, make peace with uncertainty and the role it will inevitably play in your life. Practice managing your expectations so you’re not on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions with each new disappointment. And remind yourself that you have a choice in how you react to anything that happens to you.
Focus on what you can control. Sure, plenty of factors are out of your control, but you’ll go crazy if you constantly fixate on them. Instead, focus on things that are actually in your control. For example, you can’t control whether or not you will get that big promotion at work, but you CAN control how well you prepare for the interview. Apply this philosophy any time you find yourself worrying about the future. Ask, Can I directly control the outcome of this situation? If not, take a deep breath, and try to release the incessant thoughts of worry you are feeling.
Create a “best-odds” plan for managing your stress. Constant stress, fear, and anxiety are destructive to your health and distract you from living your best life. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make a realistic plan for dealing with these unhealthy emotions. Aim to get plenty of sleep each night, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods, including plenty of nutritious vegetables. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, and don’t overindulge in sugary drinks and sweets; they may temporarily make you feel good, but are destructive to your long-term health. Additionally, use all that nervous energy for good by exercising each day! Exercise diminishes stress like nothing else. So be sure to go for a walk, hit the gym, or attend a fun class to get active. You’ll be doing your body a favor, and working out those nervous jitters in a productive way.
Get present with meditation. When you worry about the past and future, you are living in uncertainty instead of focusing on the now. But practicing mindfulness gets you “out of your head” and guides your consciousness to the moment at hand. Consider adopting a meditation routine to help you gently reorient your focus to the present moment.
You don’t have to be an “expert” to meditate. Anyone can practice meditation and reap the benefits. Here is an easy routine that I like to do. If you are able, go somewhere quiet like a bathroom stall, and for sixty seconds, follow the breath in and out of your nose. That’s it. The best thing about this practice is that you can do it anywhere from the back of a cab to a crowded café. It’s a fast way to calm down when you feel uncertainty steering you toward unpleasant feelings. Try it whenever you sense your attention slipping to the past and the future—or any time you feel fear or worry creeping in. If you’d like a little more structure to your meditation routine, I recommend the Headspace app for guided meditation sequences.
Take social media breaks and curtail cable TV. If you give it your undivided attention, a constant stream of information about the state of the world will make you mad with worry. Therefore, take breaks from all the noise on your social media accounts and focus on your real life any time you need a mental health break. And if they upset you, turn off cable news shows and get out into the world to spend time with friends and family.
Avoid negative obsessors and overly anxious people: They really do affect your psyche! Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think long and hard about who is in your inner circle. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, life-affirming people or with fearful pessimists? Try to spend most of your time with the former group—and you may just notice their sunny dispositions rubbing off on you.
Find a special way to make a difference. While you can’t solve all the problems in the world, you can do meaningful work to help others. I guarantee that you don’t have to look far to find someone or something in need. Serve meals at a soup kitchen, collect clothes and coats for underprivileged children, or raise money for a cause you believe in. Your service will give you the peace of knowing you can make an impact and be a force of positive change and progress. Just try it, and you will be amazed by how wonderful your meaningful contribution makes you feel.
Remember that while none of us can see into the future, you don’t have to let uncertainty overwhelm you or make you feel despair. If you can learn to embrace uncertainty as just another mystery in this journey called life, you may be surprised by the positive outcomes you never did foresee. For this reason, I believe in remaining optimistic about life and the future. You never know what new blessings could be just around the corner.