It was only a month and a half ago we were living a routine life, we had things planned and events anticipated, however, in the last few weeks our world and routine have been upended. Apart from the virus, there is another thing we are less immune to and that is uncertainty. In fact, none of us is immune to uncertainty, and uncertainty has been the constant guest in each one of our lives since the day we are born. It’s not a COVID-19 thing, as even under normal circumstances, humans struggle with uncertainty in their everyday lives from health to finances, relationships to career and everything in between.
History tells us there have been multiple nuances of catastrophes like Earthquakes, World Wars, Famine, Hurricanes, deadly diseases that spread like wildfire and even pandemics. But today, COVID-19 is our global calamity! It has not only shattered our economic and social order but everything familiar about our living in the 21st century. The very essence of living and routine has fallen apart and the marvels of scientific advancements have come on the verge of breaking point. And when a global disaster hits lives unexpectedly so hard wherein people are losing their loved ones, their jobs its only natural to feel this profound feeling of uncertainty (Hao, 2020).
LSME understands the problems and consequences this pandemic uncertainty is bringing to people’s lives. We are not only standing strong by our students and staff but also helping them deal with these uncertain times. LSME has been organising mindfulness meditation to settle the chaos and improve the mental health of our students and staff. We are building in time for students and staff to provide social support for each other. LSME ensures there is a proper and clear channel of communication and accurate information updates are provided throughout the institute.
The pandemic has increased uncertainty and the realisation of being unprepared hits all of us- psychologically, financially and infrastructurally. So how do we balance the fear in our minds and bring the hope of certainty back in our minds? Following are the few simple principles that can help you sail through the uncertainty:
- It all starts with acceptance – Start with accepting that the uncertainty is real and you are doing all that you can in your power. Tim Harford quoted,”We should acknowledge that even foreseeable problems can be inherently hard to prepare for.” Despite warnings from those in power we were wilfully blinded to this uncertainty. So to begin with, we should first accept that as humans we fail to act sometimes and the specifics of the pandemic are unknowable (Harford, 2020).
- Embrace this liminal phase – There are chances that some of us feel our productivity is affected, and end up feeling guilty about it. But the real focus in this phase should be working on something more important i.e. inner business. Neurological studies suggest that taking advantage of the liminal time to do that “inner business” may be more beneficial than engaging in a flurry of busy-making self-improvement efforts. Downtime is crucial not only for replenishing the brain’s stores of attention and motivation but also for sustaining the cognitive processes that allow us to fully develop our humanity(Ibarra, 2020).
- Exercise well – This may seem like the most repeated advice but is very crucial for wellbeing. Physical activity helps to flush the system of hormones released during the stress response to uncertainty. Exercise also results in the release of endorphins, a neurotransmitter which has many beneficial properties.
- Live in the present and make the most of it – Regardless of the situation, COVID-19 is a game-changer for each one of us. So start with focussing on what you are grateful for rather than letting your mind drift to the unknown future and letting uncertainty in. Whenever you notice your mind dwelling on to uncertain questions ask yourself questions that bring you back to the present. For example, what can I do today to keep my loved ones and me safe and healthy?
- Draw lessons from your past battles – Remind yourself that you have survived innumerable uncertainty battles and you would get through this as well. Each one of us has passed through disappointment, loss and failure and yet we survived, adapted with the changing times. As a society, we will win over COVID-19 and as learned individuals, we will come out of this global catastrophe.
- Understand the reasons behind your uncertainty – By becoming more specific about your uncertainty, you will be able to improve your capacity to face it and tolerate it. Rather than just living with the uncertain thoughts in your mind, write down your specific worries on a paper. The vicious cycle of uncertain thoughts would definitely come to an end.
- Stay socially connected with your loved ones whilst following physical distancing – Uncertainty often erupts when we’re mentally isolated and cut off from our peers. Reaching out to people and maintaining the connection is the best way to keep uncertainty at bay.
When a cyclone subsides, the air and the atmosphere is automatically washed clean of the particles that were concealing the view. Post the cyclone, you often can see farther and clearer than at any other time. So when this storm of uncertainty clears, we as individuals will also be able to see ourselves in a new and hopefully brighter light! We may become profoundly comfortable or tolerable at least with the uncertainties in our lives and develop a better sense of ourselves and the communities we are part of.
Hao, K., 2020. Technology Review. [Online]
Available at: https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/04/15/999509/mar-hicks-interview-previous-disasters-can-teach-us-about-covid-19/
[Accessed 28 April 2020].
Harford, T., 2020. Financial Times. [Online]
Available at: https://www.ft.com/content/74e5f04a-7df1-11ea-82f6-150830b3b99a
[Accessed 28 April 2020].
Ibarra, H., 2020. Harvard Business Review. [Online]
Available at: https://hbr.org/2020/04/reinventing-your-career-in-the-time-of-coronavirus
[Accessed 28 April 2020].