Uncertainty can make us feel like the ground beneath us is crumbling.  For me, my entire body tenses up and my digestive system usually starts to act up too.  The resistance comes on like gangbusters and I find myself spiraling in frantic circles trying to figure out how to gain some control.  It can feel downright horrible. 

If you’re someone who already struggles with anxiety, uncertainty can really take a toll.  Break-ups can really make us feel uncertain about ourselves, about the future, about the past, about how things will look moving forward or if we will ever feel “normal” again.  Job changes, divorce, financial fluctuations… so many things can throw us into the realm of uncertainty.  It’s a prime time for falling back into destructive coping mechanisms like drinking, over-eating, binge-watching, or whatever our chosen vices are.  So how can we manage our anxiety and stress during times of uncertainty? 

The truth is, uncertainty is one of those things that just is, until it isn’t.  We have been living with uncertainty for over a year with the pandemic, and that doesn’t mean that other life challenges let up.  So, here we are, feeling isolated, unsettled, and maybe even downright scared.  Many people have endured job losses, illness, break-ups, and the loss of loved ones, on top of regular life stressors.  We can’t control it, fix it or make it go away.  The only thing we can do in times like these is direct our attention inward to focus on soothing our bodies and minds.  Admittedly, I had resisted some of this work for years.  After all, if a deep breath could make me feel better, wouldn’t everyone be happy all the time?  Now though, I see that deep breathing REALLY helps.  Of course it doesn’t make our problems go away, but it does create space for us to find some calm.  And it’s not just breathing that helps.  Experiencing consciousness or mindfulness allows us to witness our thoughts and get present in the moment.   I don’t know about you, but my thoughts can tend to be WAAAY worse than what is actually happening in the present moment.  There are so many things that help soothe our nervous system in times of uncertainty if we take the time to incorporate them into our lives.  For starters, try deep belly breathing. 

Take a deep breath and expand your belly until you can’t take in any more air.  When you reach the top of the breath, hold it for just a second or two before you take a long exhale through your mouth, breathing all the air out as you feel your belly button move toward your spine.  Repeat this for 3 breaths and then pause, close your eyes and feel into your body.  You just tapped into your parasympathetic nervous system which helps us rest and digest.  I find myself practicing this throughout the day anytime my thoughts start down some anxiety-provoking rabbit hole.  It really helps!  So the next time you start with that scary story in your head, notice the thought, pause, take three deep breaths, and then notice how your body begins to relax.  Give it a try.  It can’t hurt and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.  Happy breathing!