Leveraging ChatGPT: Practical Ideas For Educators

Credit: GoodStudio / Shutterstock

The toothpaste is out of the tube! ChatGPT is here and, whether we like it or not, we can’t go back to a time before its arrival. The question now is how do we, as educators, move forward?  In case you’ve missed all the hubbub, ChatGPT is a new, advanced chatbot launched by OpenAI in November 2022 that can understand, respond to, and converse with users’ written input similarly to humans—it can even answer questions, tell stories, and engage in conversations.

Due to these advanced capabilities, it has been widely discussed and written about, particularly in the field of education, where some experts predict it could disrupt time-honored instructional practices. In fact, some of the more dire prognostications suggest that ChatGPT could irrevocably alter the way educators teach writing, assign and assess homework, and detect and monitor cheating and plagiarism.

ChatGPT itself is a neutral tool, and how it is used depends on the intentions of those who use it. While it’s understandable that the emergence of ChatGPT has sparked such speculation, it’s important to remember that technology is not inherently good or evil. ChatGPT itself is a neutral tool, and how it is used depends on the intentions of those who use it.

History has shown us that when used appropriately and with discretion, technologies generally enhance education rather than detract from it. One example is the calculator, which was initially feared to inhibit students’ learning and retention of arithmetic but has proven to be a valuable tool for aiding in computational thinking.

Along the same lines, we might think of ChatGPT as a “calculator for the humanities.” By automating lower-order thinking tasks (like basic recall, classifications, comparisons, and summaries), students can spend more time and effort focusing on complex, conceptual tasks and developing higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Of course, tools like calculators should be used at the discretion of the teacher. Much like students ask their math teacher if they can use a calculator on tests or homework, they may soon be asking their humanities teacher whether they can use ChatGPT on their assignments. So, how can educators help students understand appropriate uses for ChatGPT?

Embracing ChatGPT as a Teaching Opportunity

Students tend to approach new technologies through a lens of play and experimentation, seeking to uncover capabilities and limitations through trial and error. Despite the notion of students as “digital natives,” it is important to recognize that students do not inherently understand how to use tools like ChatGPT for academic purposes….

It’s from this perspective that ChatGPT opens opportunities for educators to teach students about these tools—to have important conversations with students about the powers, limitations, and ethical uses of advanced technological tools in education contexts. Read more…

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By: Zak Cohen

Source: Leveraging ChatGPT: Practical Ideas for Educators

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Love Hormone Oxytocin May Increase Life Satisfaction, Empathy

A recent study links neurochemical oxytocin with empathy and life satisfaction in older people. INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

A new study published in the journal Frontier in Behavioral Neuroscience shows that older individuals tend to release more oxytocin in response to social situations that arouse empathy. A larger oxytocin response was also associated with greater levels of helping behaviors and increased satisfaction with life.

These findings may explain why older individuals donate more to charity and perform more social work.“People who released the most oxytocin in the experiment were not only more generous to charity but also performed many other helping behaviors. This is the first time a distinct change in oxytocin has been related to past prosocial behaviors,” said Dr. Paul Zak, the study author and a professor at Claremont Graduate University.

Oxytocin and social behaviors

Oxytocin is a hormone responsible for uterus contractions during childbirth, lactation, and reproductive behaviors. Oxytocin also modulates the transmission of signals between brain cells and is involved in modulating social behaviors. Experiments in humans suggest that brain oxytocin reduces anxiety and promotes trust, cooperation, empathy, generosityTrusted Source, and social bonding.

Studies have shown that older individuals tend to donate more money to charity and are more likely to engage in volunteer work than younger people. A potential explanation for this increase in prosocial behaviors could be greater empathy in response to social situations in older people than in younger people.

Given the association between oxytocin and empathy, the study’s authors wanted to understand whether oxytocin mediated increased prosocial behaviors in old age.

Oxytocin and age

The present study’s authors recruited 103 individuals between 18 and 99 years old. Researchers divided the participants into three groups: young (18 to 35 years), middle-aged (36 to 65 years ), or older (over 65 years) adults.

They asked the participants to watch a short emotional video of a father narrating his feelings about coping with the imminent demise of his two-year-old son with terminal brain cancer.

The researchers collected blood samples from the participants before and after watching the video to measure oxytocin levels. Previous studies have shown that changes in blood and brain oxytocin levels tend to be correlated, allowing the researchers to estimate changes in brain oxytocin levels using blood samples.

The researchers found that older individuals showed a larger increase in oxytocin levels after viewing the video than younger individuals.

Oxytocin and kindness

After viewing the video, the participants were given a monetary reward for participating in an unrelated study and the option to donate part of the reward to a medical charity.The researchers found that individuals with a larger increase in blood oxytocin levels were likely to donate a greater fraction of the reward money.

Furthermore, older individuals donated a larger fraction of the reward money to the charity. Surveys conducted during the study revealed that older individuals also spent greater time volunteering and donated more to charity in the previous year.

Notably, a small increase in oxytocin levels in older individuals was associated with a similar donation amount as younger individuals with a larger oxytocin response.

The study also found that aging resulted in a more profound increase in donations to charity in older individuals with a smaller oxytocin response than a larger one. The findings suggest that aging and oxytocin response levels together influence the amounts donated to charity.

Satisfaction with life and religiosity  

Consistent with other studies, the researchers found that older individuals were more likely to participate in religious activities and had a greater sense of satisfaction with life. Studies have shown that older, more religious adults engage more in charity and volunteer work and express greater life satisfaction.

The researchers found that a larger oxytocin response to the video stimulus was associated with a greater sense of satisfaction with life, participation in religious activities, and increased levels of empathy and gratitude.

Study limitations

The authors cautioned that the study only correlates oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors and other traits. The findings are especially relevant since there is a bidirectional relationship between oxytocin release and prosocial behaviors, with engagement in prosocial behaviors associated with a subsequent increase in oxytocin levels.

The authors also noted that the study involved a small number of participants residing in California. Hence, more research involving a larger number of participants representing the broader demographic needs to be conducted.

Intranasal oxytocin

Other studies also suggest that using intranasal sprays to deliver oxytocin can improve mood and cognitive function, especially in older men. Although there is an interest in the therapeutic use of intranasal oxytocin, the effects of oxytocin vary by context and among individuals.

Dr. Natalie Ebner, a neuroscientist at the University of Florida, noted in a lecture, “There is a lot of evidence that oxytocin doesn’t always work the same way. It depends a little bit on what kind of situation you are in, if it’s a positive social situation it does one thing, if it’s a hostile situation suddenly it increases aggressivity. So there are a lot of interesting manipulations we can do by looking closer at contextual factors and we’re starting to see a lot is that not everyone responds in the same way.”

Source: ‘Love hormone’ oxytocin may increase life satisfaction, empathy

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7 Types of Renewable Energy: The Future of Energy

Renewable energy is energy that has been derived from earth’s natural resources that are not finite or exhaustible, such as wind and sunlight. Renewable energy is an alternative to the traditional energy that relies on fossil fuels, and it tends to be much  less harmful to the environment.

7 Types of Renewable Energy

Solar

Solar energy is derived by capturing radiant energy from sunlight and converting it into heat, electricity, or hot water. Photovoltaic (PV) systems can convert direct sunlight into electricity through the use of solar cells.

Benefits

One of the benefits of solar energy is that sunlight is functionally endless. With the technology to harvest it, there is a limitless supply of solar energy, meaning it could render fossil fuels obsolete. Relying on solar energy rather than fossil fuels also helps us improve public health and environmental conditions.

In the long term, solar energy could also eliminate energy costs, and in the short term, reduce your energy bills. Many federal local, state, and federal governments also incentivize the investment in solar energy by providing rebates or tax credits.

Current Limitations

Although solar energy will save you money in the long run, it tends to be a significant upfront cost and is an unrealistic expenses for most households. For personal homes, homeowners also need to have the ample sunlight and space to arrange their solar panels, which limits who can realistically adopt this technology at the individual level.

Wind

Wind farms capture the energy of wind flow by using turbines and converting it into electricity. There are several forms of systems used to convert wind energy and each vary. Commercial grade wind-powered generating systems can power many different organizations, while single-wind turbines are used to help supplement pre-existing energy organizations.

Another form is utility-scale wind farms, which are purchased by contract or wholesale. Technically, wind energy is a form of solar energy. The phenomenon we call “wind” is caused by the differences in temperature in the atmosphere combined with the rotation of Earth and the geography of the planet.

Benefits

Wind energy is a clean energy source, which means that it doesn’t pollute the air like other forms of energy. Wind energy doesn’t produce carbon dioxide, or release any harmful products that can cause environmental degradation or negatively affect human health like smog, acid rain, or other heat-trapping gases.[2] Investment in wind energy technology can also open up new avenues for jobs and job training, as the turbines on farms need to be serviced and maintained to keep running.

Current Limitations

Since wind farms tend to be built in rural or remote areas, they are usually far from bustling cities where the electricity is needed most. Wind energy must be transported via transition lines, leading to higher costs. Although wind turbines produce very little pollution, some cities oppose them since they dominate skylines and generate noise. Wind turbines also threaten local wildlife like birds, which are sometimes killed by striking the arms of the turbine while flying.

Hydroelectric

Dams are what people most associate when it comes to hydroelectric power. Water flows through the dam’s turbines to produce electricity, known as pumped-storage hydropower. Run-of-river hydropower uses a channel to funnel water through rather than powering it through a dam.

Benefits

Hydroelectric power is very versatile and can be generated using both large scale projects, like the Hoover Dam, and small scale projects like underwater turbines and lower dams on small rivers and streams. Hydroelectric power does not generate pollution, and therefore is a much more environmentally-friendly energy option for our environment.

Current Limitations

Most U.S. hydroelectricity facilities use more energy than they are able to produce for consumption. The storage systems may need to use fossil fuel to pump water.[3]  Although hydroelectric power does not pollute the air, it disrupts waterways and negatively affects the animals that live in them, changing water levels, currents, and migration paths for many fish and other freshwater ecosystems.

Geothermal

Geothermal heat is heat that is trapped beneath the earth’s crust from the formation of the Earth 4.5 billion years ago and from radioactive decay. Sometimes large amounts of this heat escapes naturally, but all at once, resulting in familiar occurrences, such as volcanic eruptions and geysers. This heat can be captured and used to produce geothermal energy by using steam that comes from the heated water pumping below the surface, which then rises to the top and can be used to operate a turbine.

Benefits

Geothermal energy is not as common as other types of renewable energy sources, but it has a significant potential for energy supply. Since it can be built underground, it leaves very little footprint on land. Geothermal energy is naturally replenished and therefore does not run a risk of depleting (on a human timescale).

Current Limitations

Cost plays a major factor when it comes to disadvantages of geothermal energy. Not only is it costly to build the infrastructure, but another major concern is its vulnerability to earthquakes in certain regions of the world.

Ocean

The ocean can produce two types of energy: thermal and mechanical. Ocean thermal energy relies on warm water surface temperatures to generate energy through a variety of different systems. Ocean mechanical energy uses the ebbs and flows of the tides to generate energy, which is created by the earth’s rotation and gravity from the moon.

Benefits

Unlike other forms of renewable energy, wave energy is predictable and it’s easy to estimate the amount of energy that will be produced. Instead of relying on varying factors, such as sun and wind, wave energy is much more consistent. This type of renewable energy is also abundant, the most populated cities tend to be near oceans and harbors, making it easier to harness this energy for the local population.

The potential of wave energy is an astounding as yet untapped energy resource with an estimated ability to produce 2640 TWh/yr. Just 1 TWh/yr of energy can power around 93,850 average U.S. homes with power annually, or about twice than the number of homes that currently exist in the U.S. at present.[4]

Current Limitations

Those who live near the ocean definitely benefit from wave energy, but those who live in landlocked states won’t have ready access to this energy. Another disadvantage to ocean energy is that it can disturb the ocean’s many delicate ecosystems.

Although it is a very clean source of energy, large machinery needs to be built nearby to help capture this form energy, which can cause disruptions to the ocean floor and the sea life that habitats it. Another factor to consider is weather, when rough weather occurs it changes the consistency of the waves, thus producing lower energy output when compared to normal waves without stormy weather.

Hydrogen

Hydrogen needs to be combined with other elements, such as oxygen to make water as it does not occur naturally as a gas on its own. When hydrogen is separated from another element it can be used for both fuel and electricity.

Benefits

Hydrogen can be used as a clean burning fuel, which leads to less pollution and a cleaner environment. It can also be used for fuel cells which are similar to batteries and can be used for powering an electric motor.

Current Limitations

Since hydrogen needs energy to be produced, it is inefficient when it comes to preventing pollution.

Biomass

Bioenergy is a renewable energy derived from biomass. Biomass is organic matter that comes from recently living plants and organisms. Using wood in your fireplace is an example of biomass that most people are familiar with.

There are various methods used to generate energy through the use of biomass. This can be done by burning biomass, or harnessing methane gas which is produced by the natural decomposition of organic materials in ponds or even landfills.

Benefits

The use of biomass in energy production creates carbon dioxide that is put into the air, but the regeneration of plants consumes the same amount of carbon dioxide, which is said to create a balanced atmosphere. Biomass can be used in a number of different ways in our daily lives, not only for personal use, but businesses as well.

In 2017, energy from biomass made up about 5% of the total energy used in the U.S. This energy came from wood, biofuels like ethanol, and  energy generated from methane captured from landfills or by burning municipal waste.

Brought to you by justenergy.com

Source: 7 Types of Renewable Energy: The Future of Energy

.

Related contents:

France to Reap $31 Billion Windfall From Renewable Energy Firms BNN Bloomberg

Georgian FM: PM highlighted “priority” direction of Georgia to utilise renewable energy at UN… Agenda

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Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice

Do your yoga students hunger to build a home practice but struggle to stick with one? Sustaining a regular home yoga practice can be challenging even for the most loyal yoga enthusiasts. But practicing independently—as a complement to learning from a skilled teacher—offers a variety of advantages that make it well worth the effort. Find out why a home practice can benefit your students, how you can encourage them to create the space for it, and what will help them get on the mat every day.

Benefits of a Home Practice

Self-discovery. Learning from a skilled teacher is essential for any yoga student, but classes can be full and are sometimes fast-paced. A self-initiated, self-led home practice is an opportunity to enhance body awareness and sensitivity, shedding light on misalignments that might go unnoticed in the studio.

Of course, a good instructor looks out for imbalances and limitations in practitioners, but students who work at their own pace often learn to recognize a physical limitation (such as a tight hip) or an inefficient movement pattern for themselves. One student might realize she puts too much weight on her wrists or slightly bends her right elbow in downward-facing dog. Another might discover that opening his shoulders is far easier for him than opening his hips.

These moments of awareness are important because they inform future yoga practice and enhance students’ knowledge of their bodies and themselves. By applying what they learn through self-discovery, practitioners can challenge their physical edge or correct a muscular weakness. Regular attendance at a studio will yield these same benefits, but they are enhanced during home practice.

A tailored approach. Independent practitioners decide which poses they’ll do and what they want emphasize. Let’s say a student with flexible hamstrings and tight quadriceps attends a weekly yoga class that often focuses on stretching the hamstrings. During her home practice, she can even out her program (and her body) by incorporating more poses that open the quadriceps.

Skill refinement. Home practice provides a terrific opportunity for students to reinforce setup or alignment cues they’ve learned in class. With diligent work, they will refine those skills and begin to store the information in their long-term memory.

Motivation Matters

When class participants ask you about starting a home practice, it is important to understand why that matters to them and what might be holding them back. Ask open-ended questions, such as, “What appeals to you about starting a home practice?” and “What gets in the way of rolling out your mat once you’re home?” When you have this information, you can talk through the situation and help your clients achieve the outcome they want.

Remember that for any person to adhere to any behavior, there needs to be a strong motivational factor for doing that behavior. If cultivating a home practice is something your clients think they should do, but not something they truly care about, they will not be motivated to start, and you may need to address that.

Explore this further by asking questions like “Where did your desire to start a home yoga practice begin?” and “How does starting a home practice relate to who you want to be?” This will help your clients talk about why they want to engage in the behavior versus why they should commit to it.

If motivation is not the issue, and the problem lies in the home environment, then practical solutions can help students overcome common barriers.

Home Practice Solutions

Set the space. A common barrier to home practice is the array of distractions that vie for clients’ attention. These might be objects in the environment (like TV, computers or dirty dishes) or even family members. To win the commitment struggle, it will be important for your clients to “set the space” where they plan to practice.

This could mean moving furniture to the side of a room, creating a permanent yoga space in their home, or using visual or auditory cues to make their environment more conducive to yoga. For example, clients could leverage music to set the mood, even creating a yoga playlist to provide a relaxing environment.

Encourage clients to remove any distracting objects from their line of vision: a laundry basket filled with clothes to be washed, or pieces of mail on the counter, for instance. Recommend setting the space in the morning before work, so clients are ready to go once they get home. And urge them to ask family members to respect the space so that practice can unfold without verbal or behavioral interruptions.

Create a schedule. Your clients will need to figure out a routine that will work for them, whether that means practicing when they first get home, when they get up in the morning or during a lunch break at work. Encourage them to use phone reminders or social support to keep them on schedule.

Avoiding conflict with mealtimes is best, but if clients have to postpone a meal, recommend they eat snacks throughout the day to eliminate large gaps between meals. They should negotiate with family members or housemates, asking them to play music more softly or take kids to another room until the session is over.

Modify or even discard time requirements. Another barrier is thinking the activity needs to last a certain length of time. Some clients might assume they must practice for 90 minutes (as they often do in their yoga class) for the session to matter. For many people, the idea of practicing for that long either before or after work can be daunting, so they may never start.

Help your clients set a realistic and manageable duration goal so that they can succeed. That said, remind them to watch what they’re telling themselves about the length of time they practice. For some, falling short of their goal might mean failure, which could sabotage their long-term adherence. If you notice this tendency in clients, recommend they shift their mindset and recognize value in any amount of practice. Even 10 minutes of yoga can produce an array of benefits.

Let go of expectations. The next barrier to adhering to a regular home yoga practice is pre-existing expectations about what the practice should look like: How many poses should it include? How challenging should they be? These should can get in the way, so help your clients let go of expectations and allow themselves to be present to what feels right in the moment.

Remind them that practicing only a handful of poses can be helpful and that they don’t need to do an advanced sequence for the practice to make a difference. A home yoga practice might be restorative poses one day and a more vigorous flow practice the next, and that’s okay. The practice can be different every time, since a regular yoga practice will ebb and flow based on energy levels, muscular tension, interpersonal stress, and nutritional and sleep habits.

Seek out helpful resources when choosing poses. Last but not least, your clients may find choosing poses difficult when they practice at home. Encourage them to start by practicing their favorite ones first and then add in different or more challenging options over time. Yoga books, online videos or yoga websites might prompt ideas. Suggest that clients keep these helpful resources near their mat while they practice so they can refer to them if they feel unsure about what to do next.

Home Yoga Matters

Regardless of the barriers your clients face, there are ways to help them achieve the benefits they want from a regular home yoga practice. Find out as much as you can about their motivation and help them dismantle environmental barriers. Working together, you can find the solution that will allow their home practice to thrive.

HELPFUL TIPS AND PROPS FOR HOME YOGA PRACTICE

These pointers may seem basic to you, but they can help students get a home practice up and running:

  • Always practice on a mat. It will help you avoid slipping, especially while holding downward-facing dog or warrior poses.
  • Place your yoga mat on a hard, even surface. Practicing on carpet is not recommended, as it affects weight distribution in the hands during weight-bearing poses, and this can lead to wrist pain. Practicing on carpet can also affect balance in standing poses.
  • Have a minimum of two thicker yoga blocks (either cork or foam) to support yourself in seated or standing poses.
  • Aim to have at least one yoga strap. If a strap is not available, use a resistance band instead.
  • If possible, use a woven yoga blanket for support when needed (e.g., to cushion the knee in lunges). A thicker home blanket that’s easily folded provides a good alternative.

By:

Source: Cultivating a Home Yoga Practice – IDEA Health & Fitness Association

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How To Deal With Covid Uncertainty and The Rise of Omicron

At the start of the pandemic, practically everything was unknown: How did the coronavirus spread? Why does it affect people differently? How long would we need to social distance? When might we have a vaccine? While some questions were answered just as quickly, a new crop of uncertainties emerged throughout 2020 and 2021.

Though the widespread vaccine rollout in the US seemed to provide a reprieve from the worst of pandemic life, the progress was in many ways short-lived. Now, after nearly two years of fear, grief, and day-to-day pandemic turmoil — canceled plans, delayed weddings, missed milestones — the emergence of the omicron variant throws another wrench into what we hoped would finally be post-pandemic life.

Once again, we’re being told to wait and see: Wait for research on how infectious omicron is, how serious infections with the variant are, how the vaccines stand against it, and whether we should alter our risk calculus. This informational purgatory makes it difficult to make plans, from returning to office settings to planning holiday gatherings and winter travel.

All this uncertainty is inherently stressful, research shows. The human brain doesn’t cope well with uncertainty and defaults to anxiety in the face of a potential threat. Instead, we much prefer routines and feeling in control. It’s no surprise that a pandemic, which has destroyed any semblance of routine and personal control, has wreaked havoc on mental health.

According to an August 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, 63 percent of respondents said uncertainty over what the next few months will bring is a source of stress; half said the pandemic has made planning for their future feel impossible.

If you can feel the latest strain of uncertainty gnawing away at your mental health and well-being, here are some constructive ways to cope with the ongoing precariousness of our present moment.

Acknowledge what you’ve lost

Everyone, whether they’ve lost a loved one to the virus or not, has experienced a loss during the pandemic: loss of a job, of community, of a routine, of a milestone celebration. Pauline Boss, author of The Myth of Closure: Ambiguous Loss in a Time of Pandemic and Change and professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, coined the term “ambiguous loss” to describe this experience — the departure of something more amorphous than a relationship or a life. “Not everyone has had a death,” Boss says, “but everyone has lost something.”

To help cope with the anger or depression you may feel as the pandemic continues to disrupt travel or holiday plans, Boss says to be explicit with yourself about what you’ve already lost. Even if you’ve been lucky enough not to lose a loved one, your losses are still painful and meaningful. Naming the loss helps ground your emotions and move on. “When we’ve given ourselves appropriate time to mourn those losses, then can we look at that point of loss and see what’s on the other side,” says clinical psychologist Jenny Wang.

Make plans, but stay flexible

Since day one of this crisis, being nimble and adjusting to changing guidelines on the fly has been integral to coping with the pandemic. This flexibility is still key, perhaps even more so when your patience has run thin and psychological exhaustion is high from nearly two years of changing circumstances. Right now, you should still make future plans (research shows having something to look forward to improves mood) while listening to the latest public health recommendations and being prepared to change course if that guidance shifts.

“You may have to be more flexible with your plans and gatherings, which might limit options,” says Allison Chase, the clinical director of Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center. “Limited options are better than no options when trying to connect with others or take a vacation. It might not be exactly what friends or families may have hoped for; however, this is where it is important to pause and be grateful for what you are able to do.”

Taking a day-by-day approach may feel antithetical when it comes to plans, but given the uncertain nature of the present, “we have to live for the day we have in front of us,” Boss says.

Lean on your networks

It’s admittedly a bummer to make plans you’re excited about, only to have to cancel or postpone them. However, if there’s a takeaway from last year’s lockdowns, it’s that loneliness is terrible for our mental health. Take advantage of being vaccinated and having access to vaccines, and make an effort to connect with your communities. Networks can be an anchor in yet another unmooring time.

Even making plans to FaceTime, call, or text a friend if you don’t feel safe meeting in person is beneficial. “It’s easy in this time to want to retreat and hide away — and that might be restorative for you, and if that’s the case, great,” Wang says. “Community support is key, and being intentional and deliberate about finding that support is really important.”

Avoid thinking about the worst

While Wang says dreaming up worst-case scenarios can help us plan and problem-solve for the future, it’s possible to over-rely on this type of thinking and get stuck in a perpetual loop of catastrophizing. As a result, you might end up wracked with anxiety, and instead of working toward a solution, you’re immobilized by fear.

Boss suggests countering catastrophizing with “both/and” thinking, which provides space to acknowledge two seemingly conflicting ideas; instead of “We’re surely going back into lockdown and it will be the worst,” try “I hate the unpredictability of this pandemic, and I will get through it.”

Rather than wondering “What if the worst happens?” Wang recommends asking “What is my current reality?” If that reality involves the sense that the New Year’s Eve party you’ve been looking forward to might not happen as planned, you can acknowledge your frustrations at having to change course. Then, focus on a workable solution, given the circumstances and limitations, Wang says. This might involve hosting a belated, outdoors New Year’s celebration on a sunny day.

Focus on what’s in your control

One way to increase tolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity, Boss says, is to make a concentrated effort to relinquish control. Implementing public health policies that would bring case numbers down might not be something you personally can do, but you still have authority over your own life, from how you fill your spare time to how you react to the latest news.

Bread baking earned meme status early in quarantine, and with good reason: It’s a hobby that allows people to be in direct control of the outcome, Boss says. Aside from baking, activities like knitting, doing puzzles, or playing games can replicate this feeling of control on a small scale or via a project you can successfully see through from beginning to end.

If and when the world does throw another curveball, our reactions will be practically the only thing we can control, Wang says. “It’s kind of like when you’re flying and everybody’s flights have been canceled, and some people approach the flight person in a fit of rage while other people are very adaptable and are understanding,” she says.

“Where do you want to fall in terms of where you show up in the midst of that change?” It’s okay to be upset, but once your initial emotional reaction has subsided, try to make a conscious effort to take action and make decisions from a place of patience and flexibility versus a place of resistance and denial.

Find a glimmer of hope

For most of 2020, Covid-19 vaccines remained a point of optimism; once we were all vaccinated, the thinking went, life could go back to “normal.” Now that reality has shown otherwise, it may be difficult to muster up another ounce of hope. But even in moments of despair, we need to have aspirations, Wang says.

Whether you find that in your faith, your relationships, or a meaningful pursuit you want to take on post-pandemic, you need something to help you make it through the next day. Even something as simple as sharing what you’re grateful for at the end of each day has been shown to improve happiness. “We’re talking a lot about existential questions here,” Wang says. “We can only do our best to listen to ourselves and to really be attuned to what it is that we need in order to keep taking that next one step forward.”

Know the brain isn’t good at handling uncertainty — use that to your advantage

To be in a state of prolonged uncertainty is extremely stressful, Boss says. But rather than seeing our brains’ natural reaction to uncertainty as an obstacle, try to take it as “something that can get us out of routines that we may have held for decades or years — and that’s not always bad,” Boss says. “It will lead to change.”

This change can come in the form of how you approach even the mundane moments in life, Wang says. The current unpredictability is a stark reminder of how fleeting life can be, she says. “What can we do to even just be aware and notice and cherish the very simplistic moments of our days? How can I make this life one that is meaningful, that offers slices of joy and that provides a sense of relief in the midst of how heavy it’s been to live within the pandemic?

Source: How to deal with Covid uncertainty and the rise of omicron – Vox

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