It's a go-to phrase to describe the COVID-19 pandemic – a time of "uncertainty." Do you bristle each time you hear that word? Our brain equates uncertainty and the unknown with danger, causing our stress reactions to kick in and anxiety levels to increase.
It's important to remember that even though we can't control the world around us, we can control ourselves. Author Stephen Covey refers to the things we do have control over as our "Circle of Influence."
By focusing on things we can influence, we can be solution-focused, make good choices, and practice good self-care. We also avoid a lot of frustration, negativity and fear that comes from trying to manage things that are out of our control.
1. You can control how much social media you look at, and when and where you get news. Constantly watching the news and scrolling social media will just bring about more frustrations and fear. Remember to only get information from credible sources.
2. You can follow the recommendations from the CDC, such as hand-washing and practicing social distancing. Remember that social distancing is not a lockdown; it means keeping interactions to a minimum.
3. You can control your attitude. If you allow yourself to look at the situation negatively, then you are allowing fear and anxiety to shape the way you look at things. Try to find the positive in the situation, even if it’s through a feel-good story or video. Be grateful. Celebrate the successes in your life. Smile.
4. You can find fun things to do. Explore websites or Pinterest to find new and different things to keep yourself and your family busy.
5. You can show grace and understanding to the people around you. Not everyone is going to handle this situation the same way that we do. This means that we will have to set aside our judgment and be supportive of the people in our lives while setting healthy boundaries.
Refocusing on the things you can influence can change the lens you look through from helplessness and despair to possibility and options.