The Fatiguing Nature of Uncertainty
Life has been markedly different for the past six months in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Work, school, shopping, and socializing changed in ways nobody could have anticipated. With these changes comes stress and a looming uneasiness caused by the uncertainty of it all.
Being at home so much seems like it should have made me feel better. After all, I was blessed to be able to teach from home and get paid. Many continue to suffer financially and struggle to keep their households afloat.
I’m grateful yet can’t seem to shake this exhausted feeling.
It could be due to the impending foray back to my classroom in September. My husband and I are high school teachers. Too many unknowns and unanswered questions remain for my liking. We’re worried for our students and ourselves.
Another contributing factor to my emotional exhaustion could be a steady stream of toxic political discourse. It assaults us through social media or and the news. The country is polarized, and unity is scarce.
Similarly, the spate of racial tensions and natural disasters add to the COVID-induced agita already present in our minds. Tragedies abound–so much going on with no clear answers in sight.
Tara Haelle helped bring my general feeling of malaise into clear focus with her recent article on Medium. Haelle shares excellent insight into what these feelings are all about and how to cope. I hope it helps you as much as it did me.
In the meantime, some steps I am taking to combat the feelings of unrest are simple. However, they require discipline in order to be effective.
- Move – Get outside. Go for a bike ride or a walk. Change your scenery by changing your location. If the weather isn’t agreeable or you aren’t physically able, a drive on quiet roads can provide respite. Getting out of the house or the office signals an intentional break from the daily grind–whatever yours happens to look like.
- Unplug – Spending too much time watching the news or scrolling social media adds to my frustration and uneasiness. Ruthless keyboard warriors and relentless bombardment of others’ opinions is exhausting. I’ve deleted Facebook from my phone and only check it periodically on my laptop to avoid being sucked into a time-wasting emotional vortex. I’m also being more intentional about how much and how often I check the latest news.
- Connect – Being at home with my family has been nice, but I miss seeing my friends and coworkers. Arrange a virtual or socially-distanced meetup with the people you’ve been missing. I have done a backyard coffee chat and Zoom happy hour with friends. We’ve been able to attend some church activities online also. Chatting and seeing some of my favorite faces lifts me up.
As we continue into another month of 2020, uncertainty leads the way. We don’t know where we’re headed, but taking steps to cope more effectively is a key part of the journey. Uncertainty may loom, but we can choose to fight back with purposeful action.
With Love and Gratitude,
Tracy G Cooper
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.