Posted by: healingtheworkplace | May 30, 2017

Dealing with Uncertainty

Change is the only constant. Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher

The world in which we live and work is unpredictable and becoming more so. And although uncertainty can play a positive role in our endeavours, most of us don’t like change. In fact, when life becomes too unpredictable we may find that the resulting stress is overwhelming.

In 2014, MacLean’s Magazine reported on a large study conducted in 2006 by Columbia University, the National Institute on Aging and Leiden University.  The study reaffirmed that,

“over-worrying taxes the body and promotes cardiovascular problems and that prolonged periods of stress weakened participants’ endocrine and immune function, making chronic worriers more susceptible to disease.”

On the plus side a more recent study out of Duke University found that when children were introduced to stressors that they could manage they were likely to be more resilient later in life.

The reverse, of course, is that if we don’t have enough challenge in our lives we become bored. Or at least I do. A balance would be nice but unfortunately the constant change and uncertainty in the world is often beyond our control. So we need to focus on what we can have some influence on. We need to focus on the here and now.

I worked in health care for many years and then, as now, there was non-stop change. I coped with the uncertainty because my home life was relatively stable. I also learned how to meditate.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, wears the same grey T-shirt every day so that he can focus his energy on more important things. A bit extreme and not possible for most of us but Zuckerberg has a point.

Whether it is wearing the same color T-shirt or waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual in order to start the day with a quiet meditation or a short walk there are small things that we can do to simplify our lives and help us feel more in control. In this way we can conserve our energy for life’s bigger challenges.

We often think of habits as being negative and there has been a lot written on ways to change one’s behavior. A negative habit might be driving to the corner store rather than walking there. Smoking, eating foods that aren’t good for us, drinking, and gambling can all be considered unhealthy habits.

But healthy habits or routines play an important role in helping us reduce stress and feel in control of our lives. Healthy habits utilize less mental energy and provide us with a sense of being in control.

Besides simplifying our wardrobes and creating healthy habits what else can we do to reduce or manage the uncertainty and stress in our lives?

Ned Bell and Shala Nicely, authors and co-founders of the website www.beyondthedoubt.com provide some interesting suggestions for dealing with uncertainty.

The bottom line is this: for your own health and sanity you need to learn how to deal with the anxiety, fear and stress that often accompany uncertainty. Recognize what you can control and find ways to deal with what you can’t.

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