• Claire Cook

Coping with Change and Uncertainty

With social distancing rules changing and evolving - expanding and contracting. With local lockdowns being imposed and quarantine rules seemingly changing on a pin. There is a lot of uncertainty around us. Perhaps even more so, than when we were just in a 'straightforward' lockdown.

Facebook streams are showing friends hugging and spending days on the beach together, whilst Aberdeen gets put into lockdown and we hear of a spike in cases in Preston and Manchester. Local splash parks are opened then closed, due to 'concerns'. We can meet in a pub but not in our garden or house in this area, but in another area, both are fine.... The list goes on.

Nothing is making much sense.

Our brains thrive on logic, and we seem to have hit a place hugely lacking in any apparent logic. We know from neuroscience, that we like certainty, so change can be unsettling and exhausting for us. And especially so, for those of us prone to anxiety.

It seems everyone is relaxing at a pace that suits them, but perhaps not always being mindful that in our role as 'carer' we may still be shielding or at least taking sensible precautions.

So there are a few things going on for the carer community right now;

  • From managing anxiety, as friends and the general public seem to be relaxing around us.

  • To having tricky conversations - "no it's not OK for our kids to have a playdate yet" to "please could you wear a mask?".

  • To managing feelings of resentment that for many of us, our lives are still on hold.

  • And perhaps managing pressure from the people we support. Maybe they've seen the pictures of 'fun on the beach' and don't understand why they can't join in. Or they're still wondering why you're not visiting them so much in their care home.

  • To managing our own guilt and anxiety over any decisions we are making on behalf of the person we care for - especially if they can't have a say themselves.

  • To just simply coping with the constant flux of change.

It can feel like a lot of responsibility.

"For a while we were on more of a 'level playing field', with everyone 'stuck in'. The rules have changed again, and I'm feeling left behind again."

3 tools to navigate change and uncertainty

1. Focus on what you can control

Give your mind a break from 'what ifs' by focusing on things you have control of.

Things you can control may include;

  • Making a conscious choice (and sticking to it), about how much time you spend online looking at social media

  • Choosing a beneficial morning routine that works for you. Perhaps a walk or meditation. Or just simply a cup of tea in your 'good mug' in your favourite chair before you start the day

  • Arranging a social get together that meets the rules you're comfortable with (and being clear with friends) - (rather than reacting to other people's invitations and expectations)

Check out James' blog on how carers are coping, and their top 5 tips - which include taking control!

2. Challenge how you feel about uncertainty

For example, when faced with uncertainty, do you imagine a 'worst case' scenario unfolding?

This is completely natural. By planning for the worst we can achieve a sense of 'control' through a feeling of being prepared.

Having a 'what if plan' has value, but don't let it define your thinking. Get it done, saved and shared, but then move on and consider a positive 'what if'.

If you only focus on the negative, your mind will seek and find evidence to 'prove you right'. However - this will be at the expense of noticing the positive 'stuff'. By visualising a positive outcome, you can see more of the good stuff, which will support your mood and mindset.

After all, we know that visualisation is a valuable tool, in managing our mindset.

3. Focus on the present

A popular technique within our caring community, is mindfulness. Pausing and calming our minds. The only thing that is known is the present. In the present we can't worry about what may or may not happen. Practising mindfulness gives our minds and emotions a valuable break.

There are several ways of doing this - even when you 'have no time'!

And to get you started, here's a short video, we posted on our YouTube Channel:

Check out our blog How to care for yourself, when there's no time to care for yourself. Which includes how to do a Sensory Mindful Minute!

In our life as carers, it can feel like so much is out of our control - pandemic or no pandemic! Meaning that tools like these are valuable to us, throughout our caring life.

We've written several blogs on wellbeing, which you may like to check out:

3 short techniques to manage anxiety.

3 short techniques to lift our mood

Both introduce wellbeing techniques through short video tutorials. Let us know in the comments or in our community, what your favourites are!

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