It seems as I delve deeper into the wonderful world of adulthood, the one thing in life that is certain is uncertainty. For me, uncertainty is not fun because not knowing what is going to happen and when it’s going to happen causes me a great deal of anxiety. I’m a planner. I like to KNOW. So, as you can imagine, acceptance of this very fact of life (especially in adulthood) has been a challenge.
Right now, I am going through a ton of life changes. I’m about to get married in a few short months, for one. For another, I just changed roles at my job. Not to mention, I’m in this limbo stage of my life where I don’t even know where I’ll be living in the next few months. The foreseeable future is unforeseeable. This is different from when I was in school and I at least knew that each semester I was more likely than not going to be in school and working. This time, not so much. I mean, I could lose my job tomorrow. When you’re in school, things like that don’t just happen, at least not overnight.
The fact that literally anything can happen at a moment’s notice is something we all need to learn to embrace. We need to let go of our need to have control over the things that happen to and around us. Because, we will never be in control [especially] of the things that are external to us. But how? The ONE thing that has worked for me to be able to field the uncertainty that lurks around the corner is: having a CONSTANT.
If you know anything about scientific experiments, you know that you need to have a constant (or a control group)–an object or situation that remains unchanged regardless of the conditions, in order to be able to see if the experiment worked or not. So what I mean by having a constant to deal with uncertainty is that you need to have things/people/places in your life that *virtually* remain unchanged.
What does having a constant look like?
You may be thinking, what? A constant? Huh? It’s really simple, though. It looks like having something in your life that is for YOU. Something that YOU can control in your life that isn’t affected by others. This can also look like nurturing the relationships in your life and having a system of support for those times when you may be feeling stressed or anxious about the unknown. It can also look like having an activity that you partake in regularly that keeps you grounded.
Here are some examples of constants that have worked for me and that I have seen work for others:
- A morning routine. For me, waking up at 5am isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it works! When you get up before everyone else (especially your kids!), there’s no one dictating what you’re to do with that time. I wake up early to read and reflect. Really, just to have a moment to myself and to be with my own thoughts before the morning commute-induced cortisol kicks in. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of quiet time every morning, it will help keep you grounded in times of stress.
- An evening routine. Don’t just fly by the seat of your pants after you get home at night. If you’re just not a morning person, taking the time in the evening to wind down and work on your passions every day will also keep you grounded and will help you recharge and take your mind off of uncertainty. I also like to make sure I am reading before bed, and not spending the evening scrolling social media.
- An exercise regimen. You knew this one was coming. Not only is exercise good for your health, establishing a workout regimen that you complete most days is good for your mental health as well. When everything is going wrong, you know you’ve got something to help relieve stress and anxiety. You don’t even need a gym to exercise! And, if you do it enough times, you’ll look forward to it!
- Hobbies. Let’s just be clear that exercise in and of itself is not a hobby. The hobbies I’m talking about are things outside of the scope of the bare minimums for staying healthy and living your best life that bring you joy and excitement. I’m talking: photography, writing, arts and crafts, organized sports, volunteering, gardening, fishing, hiking, singing, the list goes on. These are things that you could be doing on a regular basis to keep you grounded and excited despite the storms you might be enduring. To be even more clear, no, social media scrolling isn’t a hobby either.
- Spending time outside. Please, for the love of life, get outside every once in a while. I know it’s getting cold in the northern hemisphere, but taking the time to get outside on a regular basis will help you clear your mind and appreciate the little things–so bundle up. I’ve been taking the time every Saturday to take a walk in the park while I listen to an informative podcast.
- Checking in with friends/going to therapy. Basically, talking to people about the happenings of your life. Introducing opinions that aren’t yours into your world can backfire, but most of the time it’s helpful to get an objective opinion that you may not have considered but would be helpful. Don’t live in a vacuum. Create a support system of colleagues, friends, or even a therapist. Therapy is all-the-rage now. Going to see someone once a week (or just on a regular basis) to talk can be a constant amidst uncertainty. If therapy isn’t accessible for you, try being your own best friend via journaling on a regular basis.
- Going to places of worship/other community events. I’m not the most religious person to walk the planet, but I can certainly appreciate the value in attending church, mosque, temple or other places of worship each week to connect with people or a higher power. What a great opportunity to be part of a community that becomes part of your life. Even if you aren’t religious, finding a community of people with similar ideals as you and meeting with them on a regular basis is a wonderful constant to create for yourself.
Those were just a few examples, and there are so many more ways to keep constants in your life. The main theme here, though, is ROUTINE. Establishing a routine of things you do on a regular basis make this life YOUR LIFE. Even if you were to take just five minutes every day and meditate/reflect on the good in life, you’re creating a way to stay centered and grounded during the inevitably uncertain storms of life. So, if you lose your job tomorrow, you know you’ll still get outside or practice your morning routine (after which you’ll start job hunting), for example.
Note that your constants will change and evolve as your life changes and evolves. Life is full of uncertainty and will probably knock you out of your groove at some point. You may find yourself having to re-calibrate every once in a while and find new constants or recycle old ones to help you through. You may also have multiple constants. Having a combination of constants in your life that you can turn to depending on the situation is key. The bottom line is that we all need to have things that we do on a regular basis (be it daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) that we do for ourselves, despite what all is going on.
What is something that YOU do for you? Let us know in the comments so we can get more ideas! Until next time.