In Lancaster County we are now close to moving from a “red” to a “yellow” designation which is the beginning of “reopening” for our community. Not surprisingly, a lot of uncertainty still remains. One area of such uncertainty is work life. When might I go back to work? How will my work be different than before? Will I enjoy work as much as I had? Will the business / organization that I work for survive in light of all that has transpired? Will I even have a job?
Well, this is a lot about which to be concerned, and the concerns are real! It is understandable that many people would have a great deal of worry and anxiety surrounding all of these questions. There are no magic solutions to these concerns.
So what can one do? First, we need to do what we can to take care of ourselves. We need to be at our best, in our most stable stance, in order to weather the uncertainty. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but one way that I think about self-care is to assure that we are nurturing ourselves in each of these areas – mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Where is there imbalance in these, and thus where do I need to focus my self-care efforts? In spite of present limitations, how might I find ways to pursue the nurture of each of these areas?
Second, I believe it is important to fully accept the uncertainty of one’s current reality. Unless we do this, we won’t be able to tackle the issues at hand and accomplish what we can. This reminds me of the Serenity Prayer which was written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. This prayer is so simply, but yet so profound, and is as follow:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.”
Once we fully recognize our reality, we can begin to accept it. This then frees us to tackle those areas in which we have some control or influence. What can I do? Do I need more information to know where to begin? How might I prepare for the potential necessity of things being different? Might I have a role in being of support to my coworkers so that we can work together toward the best solutions?
And finally, according to the Serenity Prayer, we do need to be honest with ourselves, and have the wisdom to know when to accept and let go and when to work hard on having an impact.
Third, as I noted earlier, worry and anxiety in the midst of all this uncertainty is understandable, but these feelings can prevent us from moving forward in areas where we can make a difference. Acting, taking steps forward, in spite of anxiety, can help to lessen the anxiety as we begin to see new opportunities arise.
Fourth, it is valuable to change our relationship to the anxiety; specifically, changing how we think about worry and anxiety. For example, I would suggest that feelings of anxiety, or any feelings for that matter, are useful in providing us with the awareness that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. These feelings are not an indication of fact or the truth; their purpose is to bring important things to our attention so that we can act accordingly. Understanding this can help us appreciate the feelings for making us aware, and then set these aside for a time. Another simple, yet profound statement that exemplifies this perspective has been circulating on Facebook. That is, “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening; it just stops you from enjoying the good.”
And that brings about my fifth urging – enjoy the good! Stop and be aware of what you have in your life for which to be grateful. Coronavirus and COVID-19 have compelled most of us to recognize what is really important; namely family, friendships, and health. Being grateful for what we have, especially these really important things, keeps everything in perspective and allows us to face the challenges in front of us with renewed energy and commitment.