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Navigating uncertainty

Posted on 28th April 2020

We are all living through huge uncertainty in our lives right now and the stress of this situation can impact on both our physical and psychological well being. In this article, both myself, Olivia Beck, Nutritionist, and Nicola Hogg, Psychotherapist will share some tips for navigating these uncertain times.

It is a known fact that we all thrive being in a routine. With Covid-19 all our routines have been disrupted and this creates a huge amount of uncertainty in so many ways. What makes it worse is that, on top of the current change and uncertainty, our future is also filled with so many unanswered questions.

Try to resist the ‘shoulds’- Social media can make us feel like there is a long list of ‘shoulds’ that we should be accomplishing right now. Take a step back and remind yourself that you are doing the best you can right now. Home schooling, working from home amidst a global pandemic, try to allow yourself some self-compassion- it’s OK to not get everything perfect right now.

Resist the urge to keep busy all the time. Anxiety can encourage us to keep extra busy as a way of avoiding how we are feeling. This is a good time to practice taking a pause. It may be five minutes outside taking some deep breaths, listening to some uplifting music, making yourself a herbal tea, attending an online yoga or meditation class.

Focus on what you can chose and control right now- e.g. I can choose to take a 15 minute break from my work, I can make a nutritious meal for my family this evening, I can choose to schedule in some regular exercise.

One of the things that we have control over is choosing what and how to we eat. If you are working from home along with juggling home schooling, like so many of us are, it is important to ensure that you are eating healthy.

Healthy eating will help to support your energy, stress levels and overall health. Eating regularly is a great way to create routine. It is a time when you can take a break from all your daily tasks and refuel. The fuel you choose is going to influence how the rest of the day goes, including your sleep. On a basic level my rule of thumb is to only eat food your grandparents would recognise as food. Not the food that is packaged with ingredients that we are not familiar with, that is so far from what is found in nature. It is not always easy to do that, especially if you are a comfort or stress eater. Or perhaps it is just a bad habit you have gotten into.

You are not alone, it is extremely easy to seek quick fixes of energy in sugary, deep fried, processed food such as crisps, chocolate, sweets and coffee. They are so addictive that the more we have the more we want. They can also create a weak immune system that make us susceptible to picking up infection. Whereas vegetables, some fruit, fish, chicken, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, pulses and some wholegrains can provide us with the fibre to stay regular, the energy to focus on the task at hand and the energy that won’t leave us “hangry” shortly after eating. If we look at our current situation as a challenge for staying on track or even an opportunity to make long-lasting changes, it may be the perfect chance to instil some good habits which can be carried forward. For example, we are all home more which allows the opportunity to try more recipes. We can build these up into a “go to” for when things pick up again. There are also a variety of options online and in this sunny weather, to stay active or even improve our fitness. Most importantly it is an opportune time to reflect on what you may not want to go back to and perhaps how you were burning a candle at both ends. It may even be the biggest blessing in disguise that will change the way you look at your work-life balance.