Self-care and New Beginnings: How to Manage Uncertainty and Change for the New Year

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives. We’re all stuck at home, doing everything we can to be safe and hoping that things get better with time. We started 2022 with a whole new variant, one that is much more transmissible. Of course, such a huge change in our lives can become very stressful, especially since we have no idea what’s to come.

It’s understandable to be afraid. Change is scary and unfamiliar, and sometimes it can get overwhelming. It is disruptive, whether it’s change we choose to make or change we have to endure. However, change also means progress. In a continuously evolving world, it’s only a matter of time before we must do the same. We may change for the better or for worse, but what matters is how we manage our expectations. It’s important to look at these new things as realistically as possible, from taking on what we know we can handle to accepting reality for what it is.

While some changes can be uncontrollable, there are other aspects of change that we can control. All we need to remember is that to manage our uncertainty, we must focus on what is happening instead of what could happen. Instead of resisting uncontrollable change and uncertainty, we must learn to accept and adapt to it.

“The human species seeks permanence, but it is adaptation that we must seek.” - Tullio Siragusa, 2020

With that said, how can we manage our uncertainty and set realistic expectations for the year? Here are some things you can do to adapt to change healthily!

Declutter

We all collect things over the year that we don’t end up using. It could be a pack of index cards, a box of paint from your artsy phase, or a gift from your relative (which was very sweet, but it’s not exactly your taste.) Decluttering is like a fresh start, and getting rid of unnecessary items that have started to collect dust can serve as a new beginning for the new year. It can help you get rid of any unnecessary attachment that may be holding you back, or the idea of cleaning out your room can also remind you that there are things you can control. Either way, decluttering can help take your mind off the uncertainties of the new year while at the same time feeling as though you still have control over the changes that you decide to make.

Accept Uncertainty

As humans, we interpret uncertainty as a potential threat. It could trigger our fight or flight response, and we end up coping with uncertainty in an unhealthy way. Even though it’s natural to be afraid, accepting uncertainty is a learning experience that can help you deal with mentally exhausting situations. If you acknowledge that you cannot know everything, your mind will be less anxious for the future and what it will bring. Instead, you can focus on what you have now and what you can do to make your life more fulfilling.

Perfection is overrated. Let it go!

Often perfectionism is driven by excellence and the need to be good at many things, but at the same time, it is self-destructive. Uncertainty is the most difficult obstacle to overcome for perfectionists because it gives them no time to prepare or plan. This can be extremely emotionally taxing, and more often than not, it hinders progress.

As people, we are expected to make mistakes. It’s how we learn and how we grow into better individuals. Instead of focusing on doing something perfectly, think about what you can learn and how you can improve. Be familiar with uncertainty and recognize that failure is the best teacher. Only then will you be able to see your mistakes as learning opportunities.

Practice Mindful Breathing

Whenever you’re stressed or anxious, it helps take long and deep breaths. It allows you to think clearly and make coherent decisions while at the same time letting you focus on the task at hand. The key is to focus on breathing itself, which will distract you from every stressful thought in your head. Giving yourself time to think will eventually help you realize things you didn’t know while stressed. With change and uncertainty, your judgment can be clouded by the fear of the unknown, so just remember to breathe and clear your head. It’s having a calm mind and heart that allows you to manage your uncertainty.

Remember: You’re never alone in times of distress

“Those who truly love us are going to support us no matter how much we change or what we do in our lives.”

It’s easy to forget that we have people to rely on, especially when we’re struggling with a problem. Remember: you’re never alone! You’ll always have someone to talk to or someone to help you through your struggles, even when you think you don’t. You may believe that you need to solve your problems on your own, either because you don’t want to burden the people around you or because you believe you are capable of dealing with your emotions by yourself. Being afraid of the future is a common fear, so it’s easy to relate to others who share the same sentiments. Talking always helps, and it’s even better to surround yourself with the people you love who can help you through it!

We are all struggling with this pandemic, especially since we’ve started a new year and have no idea what to expect, but it’s important to remember that it’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay to be anxious and scared–we’re human! It’s difficult not to feel such emotions when faced with something we’ve never dealt with before.

With the new year, it’s now more important than ever to remain positive and hopeful for our future. We should not let uncertainty affect the way we look at the new year. Going into the new year presents opportunities for us to grow! We may not be in control of what will happen soon, but what we do have control over is how we respond to the present. Besides, we are not alone in this. Everyone around us needs just as much love and support in these trying times. So take deep breaths, be with the people you love, and take the year one step at a time.

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