First Aid to Deal With Uncertainty
Do not Turn Quarantine into Oppression
We are living a moment of deep concern. Faced with daily events, we do not have answers. There are just some shallow transitional solutions for some cases. The rest is a silent emptiness. This could be the metaphor for this current uncertainty.
Dealing with this diffuse threat, we try to act; we attempt to do something to protect ourselves. It’s an evolutionary biological impulse of survival. But what can we do in quarantine conditions? We have probably already done everything, and we do not know how long we will be in this condition.
Do not Turn Quarantine into Oppression
In this quarantine situation is important not transform the limitations of space and movement into oppressive mental confinement. We are the screenwriters of our own story. Reality is not fiction; fiction is our creation.
The understanding of the facts is always fragmented; we manage those pieces into a script that defines the enthusiasm, the bewilderment or the despair with which we experience the events.
In this quarantine situation, we do not have many alternatives to act. Our intervention in the face of reality is simple, we must follow the instructions of the authorities. However, we are responsible for our fiction; we must not distort the threat in despair.
Spontaneous emotions in the face of this reality are sadness, fear, and worry. However, the oppression, hopelessness, and helplessness come from our fiction, these are the consequence of the emotional conditions of the interpretations that recreate the circumstances we face.
Refocus the Routine
While the oppressive feeling is because of the impossibility of choices, you can always choose new references in your inner world. Even in this situation where you have little possibility of action in the external world, you have a chance to move on in your decisions.
Think about this: What mood do you choose to nourish in certain situations? What people do you choose to share your experiences? What role do you choose to play in everyday scenes? What thoughts do you choose to guide your decisions? What words do you choose to describe yourself in a certain situation?
These questions can open up options that change circumstances, even if the facts do not change.
Uncertainty activates the biological survival impulse, which drives you to act. But, to avoid compulsive and hopeless reactions, which increase the feeling of oppression, hopelessness, and helplessness in the face of uncertainty, you can refocus these actions in five specific moments to generate a daily dynamic with different possibilities that allow you to experience reality with other emotions, nourish your inner world and sustain your emotional bonds.
Relationship moment. Spend time on affective encounters. Take care of the emotional state of your bonds. Hold moments of intimacy to accompany each other in this context of uncertainty. It is necessary to recover the sense of what connects us as a couple, family, friends, community.
In this sense, the content you share at that moment is important; do not flood intimacy with routine data. Focus on how important that person is to you. What is the core of that relationship? This is the moment to nurture intimate connections.
Inspiration moment. Spend time on your own privacy. Do not lose the connection with your interests, with what you like. In these current conditions, we try to close the gap of uncertainty with tons of data, that increase the uncertainty. Keep the connection with the subjects that inspire or passionate you: art, sports, books, hobbies, spiritual practices, or any other practice that inspires you.
This can be possible through reading, on the internet, on television, through conversations (face-to-face or virtual), or simply in solitude. We must try to incorporate inspiring content to this situation; do not get involved with contents that will generate more despair and anguish.
Body moment. Spend time on your biology. Body signals are the first expressions of moods. Emotions are reactions that prepare the body for a response. Therefore, to maintain the flow of the chemistry of emotions, take care of your body. Body signals are calls for attention; this does not involve more food, pills or stimulants.
Any physical activity is important so that emotions can flow and they not turn into bad moods. Move to untie the emotional knots. If you can work out is great but it helps if you stretch, walk, tidy up, clean up or dance. Find the creative way to move. Nourish the body and do not expose it to unhealthy demands.
Information moment. Spend time on reality. While knowing what is happening is important, a key factor in this context is to clean up the sources of information. Take care of the information that enters into your life, not only related to the reliability of those who generate it but also about the quality of the contents. Avoid precarious sources of information that share inaccurate or false data.
Also, avoid content (videos, photos, articles, comments) that do not contribute to what you need to understand and cope with this moment. Information is important, but it is even more important to take care of how you receive it, where it comes from and how often you connect to it.
Routine moment. Spend time on time. It is important to create a routine for the routine. This definition may seem contradictory, but it means organizing the priorities of tasks and daily demands so that routine does not invade all of your time. The invasion of the routine generates a frustrating and desperate experience of time.
In the maelstrom of these events, it is easy to get lost in the demands of quarantine. Recovering priorities is necessary to have a reference point to return to when you get lost among the news headlines and cell phone messages.
Psychologist, Ph.D. in Communication and Master in Neuroscience. Author and postgraduate professor. Emotion researcher www.marcelomanucci.com