Column: Finding strength in a time of uncertainty

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

These past five months we’ve been faced with one uncertainty on top of another.

The only thing certain is that uncertainty will continue. It is incumbent upon each of us to face up to this fact.

The pandemic we are experiencing is not going away anytime soon.

It seemed like almost everything in our lives became uncertain at the time the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic, and our country – along with most others in the world – locked down.

We went into collective shock at that time. We were uncertain where the virus originated (where it originated is not the issue; it’s the fact that it exists that matters). We were uncertain how it spread.

Little by little, reliable information surfaced from scientists and public health authorities as to its transmission. We were almost immediately advised to keep a physical distance of two metres between us and others, and to be diligent with our hygiene.

In B.C., we have been advised well. That is certain.

Even under normal circumstances, our lives are full of uncertainty – in areas such as health, relationships, employment and finances. But now, perhaps more than one of these areas has had a negative impact on us personally. This can result in severe stress, anxiety, depression, right down to a sense of despair.

Add to those, the long-term economic and social costs of the pandemic are unpredictable.

How can we strengthen our tolerance of uncertainty at this time?

Read more: Column: What we are now experiencing is grief

Read more: Column: Pandemic requires we be concerned for the health of others

First of all, we need to accept that uncertainty is with us, and will be for some time. Denial of it will only lead to our vulnerability to the virus if we feel invincible, or could lead to mental health issues.

We can recall how we have dealt with specific uncertainties in the past, and reflect on what worked (or didn’t work) for us at those times. We can focus on controlling those things that are under our control, such as practising wise social behaviour, and seeking out reliable and fact-based information about the pandemic. We must set boundaries around how much social media we devour, how much we talk to others about how the virus is going rampant in some countries close to us.

At this time, we are wise to live more “in the moment” than to focus on what we want to achieve in the distant future. The future has never been more of a moving target than it is today. We each have the power to choose how we will approach our future.

We must learn to be resilient. We need to focus more on the possibilities than the impossibilities. This means we need to create hope in the face of this adversity. This is certainly worth doing.

Nan Dickie is an author, speaker and former facilitator of a depression support group in Salmon Arm.

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