10 principles for selfcare in uncertain times
- Balancing realism and optimism
- Surrounding ourselves with people with whom we can be ourselves
- Focusing on purpose
- Nourishing ourselves
- Staying curious
- Embracing creativity
- Feeling & grieving well
- Knowing that darkness is part of the process
- Accepting what is
- Focus on the light
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Jk Rowling. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Uncertainty is challenging, most of all because, when confronted with it, most people seek the one thing we won’t be able to have for a while: certainty. You can fight it, but the hard truth about uncertain times is that there is no returning to what was, only going forward to what will be. Our future is not going to be certain for a while – and the truth is it never has. It only appears to be this way.
Because most of us are used to safety and predictability, it might be hard to adjust to these uncertain times without trying to force back to the ‘old ways’ while being secretly terrified of losing it all again.
Here are ten principles for how we can take care of ourselves in times of growing uncertainty.
1. Balancing realism and optimism
The first thing we need to do well when facing a challenge is strike the right balance between reality and hope. A part of us needs to know that better days are ahead, but we also want to have a grip on reality. Even putting the worst-case scenario on the table (in a thoughtful and digestible way) can provide a sense of relief. That helps us to balance staying high on life while meeting our next steps.
2. Surrounding ourselves with people with whom we can be ourselves
In times of uncertainty, when we are slightly off our normal confident selfs, the worst we can do to ourselves is to freak out about losing control by hiding behind a mask. This leads to isolation and codependent behaviour and is not serving anyone. Instead, we need to identify the people in our inner circle that see the best in us even when we don’t. We need a safe place where we are ok in case we lose it for a moment.
3. Focusing on purpose
Before Covid-19, life often felt like we were running (or sprinting) a race. Now, we’ve found ourselves tripped up, through no fault of our own. While there are those who will simply pick themselves up and keep moving down the track, others are pausing for long enough to wonder why they were running in that particular race to begin with. Let’s only do what feels deeply important and meaningful and erase the rest of the list.
4. Nourishing ourselves
During a crisis, every facet of our demeanor is magnified. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish; it’s the most selfless thing we can do. We need to exercise more, take time to meditate, eat well and get plenty of sleep. Not only will we benefit from it, but so will all those impacted by us. The more new ways of nourishing our bodies, hearts and souls day by day we can come up with, the better.
5. Staying curious
The ability to know what to do when we don’t know what to do is only possible through curiosity, the prerequisite to which is humility. Curiosity comes before judgement, comes before any decision, comes before anger, upset or getting stressed. Being curious also helps us see the bigger perspective and keep connected to the higher mind.
6. Embracing creativity
It takes creative thinking and innovating to be able to reinvent and respond to a changing environment. Let’s make a game out of constantly inventing new ideas about the future and how we see ourselves as a happy part of it.
7. Feeling & grieving well
Change usually is accompanied by loss and loss brings grief with it. Most of us are scared of feeling anger, sadness or pain because we have been told it’s not ok to show our emotions. The truth is that the less we allow ourselves to feel, the more emotional constipation we suffer from. That can cause illness but it also blocks our access to joy, bliss and pleasure. The more we feel, the more we feel.
8. Knowing that darkness is part of the process
When we evolve into new levels of insight, we undergo a certain phase of transformation that often can be painful. We are letting go of an old identity and welcome new beliefs that we haven’t been able to see as ‘true’ before. There is another way to look at the necessity of darkness. As Madeline L’Engle says, “Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” Maybe we need to experience periods of unhappiness so we can truly feel what happiness is. Then we can go on to find that feeling as many times as we can over our lifespan and be grateful every time we do.
9. Accepting what is
The most profound spiritual practice is the one of accepting everything exactly as it is right now. If we accept our resistance to accepting something, if we accept our fear, our despair, our unwillingness, our victimhood, our sense of betrayal, we can just be. And that is when the path of least resistance begins. Instead of trying hard, we let life live us.
If accepting the future feels impossible, I accept what is a breath at a time. I really slow down enough to be able to accept what is right here or the next minute ahead of me. This practice comes from buddhism and is incredibly helpful during intense times of stress and resistance (which is the core of anxiety).
10. Focus on the light
Perhaps true happiness is being able to find that feeling, even in the darkest of moments. It is inevitable that one day you, me and the people we care about will leave this world. Everything we love, we will lose. Naturally, we will feel pain, loss and grief. Yet, we have a choice in that moment to mourn their death, or celebrate the life lived. Aristotle summed it up best when he shared that, “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
We hope that these 10 principles can give some guidance in these uncertain times.
Uncertainty is part of the cycle of life. It is the most transformative energy for our egos and our sense of identity. Hence, it is normal for these parts of us to get scared. However, the most unhelpful response is getting stuck in fear. When we honor and trust this cycle while caring about ourselves and integrating the principles explained above, the light will naturally emerge again. More so, we will find a new sense of ‘self’ emerging.
Call to embodiment
First, give yourself a number between 0-10 for the level of uncertainty you experience right now. Then write down what number between 0-10 your fear-response is in regards to this experienced level of uncertainty.
Then write down which one of the ten principles are you already practicing and how this practice would impact your number when you do more of it.
As a final step, ask yourself which of the principles you could practice that would bring both numbers down to 0.
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