We are all in a collective moment of uncertainty and it is extremely stressful for many of us. It’s challenging as most of our lives are on hold and we are just waiting. We can’t plan anything or put our minds on pause while we wait. Our schedules are disrupted , we are isolated and worried.
Before we can experience relief we invariably have to go through a period of waiting, as many of us are currently learning, this can be uncomfortable and distressing. It can make sleep difficult, distract us from work and leave us feeling anxious.
Are we all destined to just crumble under the pressure of uncertainty, or is there a way to ‘wait well’? Is it possible for us to manage the uncertainty of waiting any better? In the light of research revealing that a good waiting period often means underwhelming good news and shattering bad news – giving advice here could be difficult!Is there a better way to wait?
Finding A Better Way
If we choose then to be optimistic, are we just setting ourselves up for a fall or is it all in the timing? Optimism prepares us for waiting but pessimism prepares us for bad news. So if we try to stay positive and remain optimistic for as long as possible, then prepare for bad news towards the end of the wait, we hopefully buy ourselves the buffer from bad news, and the elation over good news.
It’s the combination of not knowing what’s coming together with not being in control that makes waiting so hard to bear. If we can grab hold of a little control over our fate by making a plan for bad news, that can ameliorate a little of the challenge of no control.
Another coping strategy for well-being is shifting perspective on what the bad news would mean. It can allow us to see that even bad news can have an up side. So if we can find our silver lining in advance it can help us to prepare for the worst.
Being deeply engaged in an activity that absorbs us completely can be a good distraction. It can help us to forget our concerns as we wait. This technique is associated with significant improvement in happiness. As time passes more pleasantly when we get into our flow, we don’t notice it’s passage and even forget we are waiting.
Finding A Solution
Sometimes time can seem like the enemy – especially now. Many of us feel like we are just killing time until we get back out into the world or even for our lives to get started at all. Whether beginning a new job or simply wanting to see friends and loved ones, we start to strike bargains in our own heads and fantasize about what we will do when this current pandemic is over.
We can try to help ourselves by looking at things with curiosity instead of frustration. This can enable us to transform everyday tasks into interesting and enjoyable experiences If we’re curious enough there is nothing that will stop us from figuring out what we need and it can help us to face our fears.
The pandemic is a useful reminder that there are big powerful things in our lives that we cannot change. It doesn’t mean that we are powerless as we always have the power to change how we respond. This is real life and it’s what’s happening right now, we just have to learn to adapt.