There is one thing that strikes fear in our human hearts—uncertainty.

We like controlling every aspect of our lives. Some want to “play God” and control things beyond our lives.

Although we might not like it, the cold, hard truth is we are not in control of many things in life—one of which is the economy. Lately, we have been hearing the dreadful word “recession”. In fact, during March 2023, I witnessed and experienced a wave of contract cancellations, budget cuts across various projects and organizations, and panicked phone calls and emails from clients.

If you are in the same boat, you might think, I’m going to lose my job. My business is going to go bankrupt. I’m going to lose my house. My family and I will be destitute on the street.

If things seem scary, uncertain, or maybe even hopeless, remember that you are not alone.

Although it is human nature to worry, remember that although we can’t control everything that happens to us, we do have control over our emotions, reactions, and where and how we decide to spend our energy and effort.

However, changing our mindsets isn’t always easy. Here are some healthy ways to handle stress during times of uncertainty.

Get outside.

“The real wealth of the nation lies in the resources of the earth—soil, water, forests, minerals, and wildlife.”

– Rachel Carson

This isn’t a new or Earth-shattering recommendation. Stress and anxiety can hinder creativity and prevents us from solving problems. According to Harvard, even a 20-minute nature break can reduce stress and anxiety.  

We are not meant to spend our lives in a constant state of worry. Sometimes we need to change our focus, even just for a moment, to see the naturalness of nature. We live in a vast world of greenery, mountains, and forests to explore, so get out and take advantage of it. Walk on a forest trail. Let yourself be observant and listen. I’m willing to bet that your sights, smells, and surroundings will differ. This experience alone will trigger your endorphins and tickle your sense of curiosity and wonder that we tend to lose as we age. 

And the best part? It’s free!

Still a little skeptical? If you’ve been experiencing any of these mood shifts or symptoms, it might be time to get outside.

Get rid of stress.

Stress is bad for your health. Seriously. The more effectively you can cope with it, the better. Here are some small things you can do each day to help get rid of stress:

  1. Slow down, and be grateful for every single moment.
  2. Journal every single day. Write out your thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They don’t have to make sense. The simple activity of getting your thoughts on paper can be therapeutic.
  3. Go for a walk. Go to the gym. Do some form of exercise you enjoy. Just get up and MOVE.
  4. Get enough sleep.
  5. Take a weekend getaway (if time and budget permit). A change of scenery can go a long way.
  6. Avoid sugar and alcohol.
  7. Take things one day—and one step—at a time.
  8. Pray, read the Bible, or meditate.
  9. Do something creative. It doesn’t matter what. Write a poem. Draw or paint a picture. Pick up the guitar or dust off your keyboard. Build a birdhouse. Don’t worry about your lack of artistic ability, judgment, or perfection. Just do it.

We all handle and cope with stress and worry differently. Learn your triggers and the activities that help relieve you. Then, build those activities into your daily or weekly routine to reduce stress.

Go after the source.

The factors or situations causing stress and anxiety are obvious in some cases but not in others. If you aren’t sure what is stressing you out or making you anxious, you just know you are stressed, then you might have to do some serious soul-searching to target the root cause.

This means activating the “problem-solving” mode of your brain. A common problem-solving technique is performing a root cause analysis. When asking yourself why you are stressed, ask yourself “WHY” five times.

Here’s an example:

PROBLEM STATEMENT: I am stressed out.

  1. WHY: Because of work.
  2. WHY: Because I have too much work.
  3. WHY: Because I want a successful business.
  4. WHY: Because I need to earn an income.
  5. WHY: Because I want to live my lifestyle.

Of course, I used somewhat of a trivial example, but you can apply this framework to anything. This technique will allow you to drill down to the root cause of your stress and anxiety.

Overkill? Maybe, but effective? Definitely.

Remember the little things in life.

We often need to remind ourselves to slow down, be patient and present, and recognize the things that most bring us joy. 

Here are some small things you can do every day to do that:

  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Set daily affirmations. (You can also set an automated “routine” to have Alexa recite daily affirmations to you every morning.)
  • Write down three things you are looking forward to. (They can be as simple as calling or visiting a friend or neighbor, reading a book, or enjoying a piece of chocolate after dieting all week.)
  • Answer phone calls with a smile. (Yes, the other person can “hear” it!)
  • Listen to music and fight the urge to do anything else. Think about the meaning behind the lyrics of a song. You might even get goosebumps from the experience!
  • Wear your favorite clothes today. (We all have them!)
  • Just smile. (Do you really need a reason?)

I know, I know, you’ve heard it before: ”Be grateful for what you have.” But there is something incredibly powerful about slowing down, taking in your surroundings, and being grateful for the here and now.

Learning to increase your awareness of the little things will be a pleasant reminder that a bad day doesn’t necessarily mean a bad life.

Put things into a positive perspective. 

Life is a lot like playing catch with a football. Life throws the ball at you. You hold out your arms to catch it. Then, it bounces off the ground in a different direction than expected.

Regardless of what keeps you up at night, remember that at the end of the day, all we can do is keep going. As life continues to change, and as you find yourself amidst times of uncertainty, finding your peace, joy, and happiness will always get you through it. Don’t be afraid to get creative and find new things that bring you joy.

Although we might not have control over everything, remember what you do have control over. Remember, this is YOUR journey. You have the power to create your own happiness. So go build it.

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