9 Tips on dealing with uncertainty from the coronavirus
The coronavirus crisis is changing our world. One day has more news than you can read or digest. What will work be like today? Will my child's school close this week? Will someone I love become very sick? There's no easy answer for what tomorrow brings. But you can take each day and learn how to live with the changes. You aren't alone, and it's normal to feel a lot of stress right now. How will you cope today, let alone tomorrow? Does anyone know what real life is anymore? Maybe not, but you can still get through it with a little help and sound advice.
School activity changes
Your daughter has been asking about her graduation party. Your son talks about his soccer and baseball games. Your parent friends wonder about the school carnival coming up in May. Now what? A few weeks ago, your family calendar showed so many fun things in the months ahead. Now it looks uncomfortably empty. Should you erase the big soccer tournament from its weekend time slot? Or leave it there, but not mention it? COVID-19 is a true health emergency. It is serious and the big changes we're all going through are important. Safety comes with a lot of change. Sometimes it's too much change to believe.
How to cope with this:
Name that feeling
Noticed a strange ache in your heart the last few weeks? It’s probably grief. With grief can come many other feelings like anxiety, sadness, anger, and yearning. You are feeling a lot of loss with your family and with the entire world. These losses are real. It's OK for you and your family to feel sad about the baseball games, speech meets, and school picnics that may or may not happen.
Feel your grief
Be upset and feel sad. Know that emotions move through you. Feel what you feel and let it pass. Another emotion will move in. You won’t always feel sad. You can find happiness today and the next day too.
Hold on to hope
You and your family will get to have fun things on the calendar again. It may not feel like it, but this is a temporary situation. It’s hard to say when things will get better, but they will. Have faith that life will open up again and you will feel relief.
Don't look at any of your investment accounts right now. Don't even think about it. The ups and downs of the stock market have been dizzying lately. You may have had your hours cut at work. You might know someone who's been laid off or put on leave. Or you may be one of the millions of small business owners wondering what your financial future is. There's no doubt the entire world is facing financial uncertainty. Communities of all sizes are trying to keep their economies going. What does this mean for you? A lot of questions with few answers.
How to cope with this:
Look at your finances today
What kind of budget do you work with? Is it fairly tight or do you have some wiggle room? Spend what you must but try to reserve some savings. Buy a few more groceries each week to build up a surplus. But don't blow your budget. The extra money you save now can help if your job is affected later on.
Don't make emotional money decisions
It's much easier to make bad choices when you're emotional. Emotions aren't right or wrong. They just don't use logic. Feel like cashing out your retirement account and putting it in the bank? Are you doing a little too much retail therapy to make you feel better? Neither one is a good idea. Fear can be a bad decision-maker. Don't let it be in charge of your wallet.
Talk to a financial advisor
Speaking of emotions, this might be the right time to get help from a financial advisor. These are difficult times, especially if you don't have a financial plan. An advisor can help you make choices with a professional viewpoint. They can guide you through these rough times with solid advice.
The working world is anything but normal right now. Companies of all sizes face a big challenge. They need to keep people working and keep their workplaces safe. You may be one of the millions adjusting to a work-from-home life. Most likely, you had a few day’s notice, maybe a week if you were lucky. Suddenly, everyone's learning to use online meeting apps like Zoom and Skype to keep in touch. A lot of kitchen tables have quickly become makeshift offices. Kids, spouses, and pets are new (and noisy) coworkers. Medical workers, grocery store clerks, and rescue workers are on the job, even with the risk of getting sick. And, if you are less fortunate, you may be very unsure if you'll even have a job for long.
How to cope with this:
Working from home
Stay in touch with your employer and understand your options. Working from home may be safer, but can also be frustrating. Find a space in your home with some quiet. Understand you will be interrupted. Some days will go well, and others won't. Give yourself a break. Many at-home workers are struggling right along with you.
Parenting tips for online school
If you have school-age kids, your kitchen is their new classroom. And you may become a part-time volunteer teacher. Teachers will do the best they can to help your kids finish the school year. But nobody expects the last several weeks to be perfect. Do the best you can and forgive yourself a lot. Try to follow some kind of schedule, but don't be too strict. Take breaks from school time. Step away before you or your kids get upset. Keep plenty of snacks on hand and encourage recess for everyone, including you.
Working in a higher-risk environment
Depending on your job, you may be required to go into work. You may need to do extra things to keep yourself safe, both at work and when you come home. Create a routine to clean up and change clothes. Take extra care of your stress levels and sleep. You may feel more anxiety because of the extra risk you take at work. Talk to loved ones if you feel overwhelmed. Your work is important right now.
Dealing with uncertainty
When life is uncertain, just breathe. That may sound too simple to really work. But when everything feels out of control, keep it simple. Focus on the things you can manage yourself. You can exercise, control your breathing, choose what you eat, and focus your mind. Put your attention on these things now. Stay connected with your loved ones. Take care of yourself. These actions won't solve today's crisis. But they will help you make the best of today.
How can you help your family and neighbors?
Tell us your parenting tips for doing online school. Share how you work from home around your spouse and kids in the comments below. ------ For more tips on relationships, follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges -------- Erika Krull is a mental health writer with a master’s degree in counseling. She has worked with families and individuals in a variety of therapy settings. She has also been writing for a variety of mental health and wellness websites since 2006. Erika lives in central Nebraska with her husband, dog, and her three daughters