on coping with uncertainty

Having a chronic illness gives a person more experience than they will ever need in uncertainty. I often don’t know how I will feel from one day to the next – will I wake up in pain? will I get a migraine later? will what I have planned trigger my symptoms? Some days my life feels like a string of cancelled plans, holidays spent asleep in bed and missing out on things I’d wanted to do because I know it will be a busy week at work and so I can’t risk taking anything on.

I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t suck

I think everybody is starting to feel this same day to day uncertainty now we are in month six of a global pandemic. In some countries restrictions have been eased, while others are going into a second lockdown. Everything that once seemed so certain now seems uncertain – second infection waves, schools going back, job security, even Christmas has a question mark over it. It’s scary.

But the truth is that nothing has ever been certain

Jobs, money, everything being the same tomorrow as it was yesterday – none of it has ever been certain. And deep down I think we all know that really. The problem with the pandemic is that the uncertainty is hammered home on a daily basis with a massive jackhammer to the skull. There’s no avoiding it anymore when it’s repeated 350 million times a day.

And it feels horrible.

How can we cope with this without losing our sweet minds?

If you know me well you’ll know that I’ve been practicing yoga pretty much daily since 2004. Some days that looks like a full yoga practice, some days it looks like rolling about on the floor, other days when my pain is high it looks like meditating in bed. But I try to do something everyday.

But why?

Because of the present moment.

Nothing is certain, and we don’t really have any control over anything except our reactions to things. I’ve had a lot of reactions to things recently – mostly anger and sadness – but sitting quietly, or being on my yoga mat helps me channel those reactions into something healthier, something more comfortable.

All we really have is this moment right now. Most people reading this, I’m guessing, are doing all right in this moment. And that is the magic that is mindfulness – the ability to sit, albeit temporarily, with the present moment. It reduces stress, increases focus and happiness. It’s pretty magical really, but also pretty simple.

Mindfulness is sometimes presented to look like modern witchcraft, something that is far out of the reach of us mere mortals. But it’s right there whenever you need it. You don’t have to practice yoga, or even have a meditation practice, you don’t even need to download an app. You just need five minutes each day to sit quietly and count your breaths – 1 to 10, 1 to 10, 1 to 10 – until the five minutes is up. Yes, your mind will wander off, everyone’s does – mine often wanders off onto whatever book I’m reading or writing and I’ll confess I’ve had a few Eureka moments with plotholes when I’ve been meditating. But none of that matters, just pick up the counting again and carry on.

And here’s another thing.

Nothing is certain, but everything is temporary. Life won’t be like this forever.

Sending you much love readers in these very odd times.

Posted in Blog.