We spend a lot of time in school learning things we rarely use in life. And then, a massive chunk of our lives after formal education, gathering practical knowledge to build a good life. The irony of learning in school is that we don’t apply much of what we learn in our lives.
Success is built on permanent skills, but society values hard skills more. Therefore, people are encouraged to learn hard skills to be “successful” in life.
Traditional skills (engineering, programming, accounting, expertise, etc.) are easy to measure and job-specific. The problem is, not all skills are permanent. Some skills are valuable for a while, and then they become obsolete as technology evolves and gets better at doing specific tasks.
Many people have lost their jobs because employers found a faster way to save money. If your skills are indispensable, you are among the lucky few who can rely on their skills for as long as possible. Permanent skills have been around for centuries. They help people navigate life and do their jobs effectively.
Successful people learn both hard skills (through formal education) and permanent skills (via self-learning) to become efficient or effective humans. Their permanent skills complement their hard skills. Sheryl Sandberg once said, “Build your skills, not your resume.”A few permanent skills that can help you thrive in the next decade.
Dealing with uncertainties and change — In the wake of the pandemic, your ability to rise above things you cannot control is now more important than ever. How you react when most things are out of your control changes determines your level of stress and anxiety.
“Knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security,” says mathematician John Allen Paulos. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but knowing what you can and can’t control can help you plan for inevitable change……
Everyone desires the sure thing, the safest path, and the most unquestionable of choices. But life is full of uncertainty, and there is no time like the present to see this. With uncertainty comes risk. Only gamblers find risk compelling. And that’s because they know how to manage it (or at least they think they do). Typically, though, no one likes risk.
Crossing the threshold into retirement magnifies the uncertainty you must deal with. Wouldn’t it be to your advantage to fully understand what those experienced with retirees see as the major problems people have when they retire? Here are five such problems for you to think about and possibly prepare for.
If you don’t plan, you plan to fail. The same goes for organizing your finances. Of the problems mentioned in this article, organizing your finances ranks as the one you should do well before you retire. By getting things in order in advance of retirement, you’ll better prepare yourself for the choices you have to make. “The main problem people face upon retirement is organizing their financial lives and finding new purpose,” says Robert Reilly, a member of the finance faculty at the Providence College School of Business and a financial advisor at PRW Wealth Management in Boston.
“If they have not already done some formal financial planning, replicating their old paycheck can be a daunting task. Most workers are used to a certain cycle for their paycheck and had a routine in place to pay their monthly bills. Significant time and effort can be required to figure out a new budget, new payment methods for healthcare and other major bills.”It’s natural to have several questions when you retire. Organizing your finances represents the best way to tackle the uncertainty of retirement.
“The two cornerstone questions faced by those anticipating retirement are ‘Am I going to be OK?’ and ‘Can I afford to financially support the lifestyle I have worked all my life toward?’ Neither of these questions can be answered with the level of accuracy and confidence that people want until they have taken the time to organize their thoughts about what being OK in their retirement looks like,” says Doug Dahmer, CEO and founder of Retirement Navigator in Burlington, Ontario.
“Retirees significantly underestimate the amount of cash flow that can be uncovered during retirement by employing a strategically sound drawdown strategy. The financial impacts are often measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, there is no way to optimize a retirement lifestyle plan that cannot be successfully funded and there is no way to develop a strategically sound retirement funding strategy without the granularity of understanding where the peaks and valleys of year-to-year spending occur.
As such, they must organize their thoughts and pre-test their expectations as it relates to their specific version of knowing they will ‘be okay’ once they have retired.”
Transitioning to a new lifestyle
Once you step into the river of retirement, you’ll find yourself immersed in a different current. It’s not the first time you’ve entered a whole new world, but it’s probably been a long time since you’ve had that experience. As mentioned above, the first challenge—or self-doubt—will center on money. But, in the end, it comes down to your ability to live a new life.
“The main problems I see as a wealth advisor often hit several areas,” says Clint McCalla, Senior Wealth Manager at LourdMurray in San Diego. “A big one is not saving enough based on the lifestyle the retiree wants. They simply can’t afford to do the things they want to do. The other problem is boredom or a loss of purpose.
I also see relationship issues emerge between significant others as you are now potentially spending more time together, which is an adjustment. For anyone going through this transition, you need to be realistic about how quickly you adapt to a new lifestyle. It isn’t going to happen overnight. Take time to figure it out, and don’t pressure yourself to meet the expectations you had going into retirement.”
The greatest problem is usually the one you least expect. When it hits, it hits big. It means you haven’t prepared for it. As a result, it leads to anxiety. The angst can be justified, or it can simply result from your being surprised. “The biggest challenge people face when they retire is failing to account for inflation,” says Chris Kampitsis, a financial planner at The SKG Team at Barnum Financial Group in Elmsford, New York.
“They assume falsely that the amount they will need to withdraw in year one is the same amount they might need to withdraw in year ten or twenty. People also drastically underestimate their spending. Conversely, they also tend to overestimate how much they can safely withdraw from their nest egg.”
Inflation, even when it trickles in, will have ramifications deep into retirement. It’s one reason financial professionals suggest you keep a significant portion of your retirement savings in long-term investments. This will allow your portfolio to grow even in retirement.
“The main issues for retirees are replacing income in an inflationary environment, preparing for unknown future healthcare costs and long-term care costs, and feeling confident to spend money when they have been good savers,” says Emily C. Rassam, senior financial planner at Archer Investment Management in Charlotte, North Carolina. “I met with a client who is afraid to start distributions even though she has saved well and has plenty to cover current distributions and future expenses.”
All the above problems can lead to the most vexing of worries, that of financial insecurity. This feeling isn’t all bad, as it represents a defensive tactic that can help protect you from the worst-case scenario. “People usually just don’t have enough to retire,” says Bob Chitrathorn, CFO CFO-0.4% and vice president of Wealth Planning at Simplified Wealth Management in Corona, California.
“They simply retire and will try to make do with what they have, without knowing how long the amount of money they have may or may not last! There are many factors that can compound your fears concerning money. Working longer may exasperate this (although it may also offer advantages.) “The main problems people face when they retire are financial insecurity, health issues and social isolation,” says Derek Miser, investment advisor and CEO at Miser Wealth Partners in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“Many people rely on their pension income to survive, and if this income is reduced due to higher retirement age, it can cause financial hardship. Health issues often become more prevalent in older age, and these may only be compounded by working longer. Also, many people struggle with social isolation when they retire, as they can lose touch with their work colleagues and struggle to find a new sense of purpose.”
Just because you make it through the money-related obstacles doesn’t mean you won’t have problems in retirement. For example, do you know the answer to this question: What is the meaning of your life? Discovering the answer for you is easier to know than you think. Still, fewer spend the time and effort needed to look into themselves. The lack of purpose becomes more apparent once you retire.
“The main problems people face when they retire depends on the situation,” says Anna Rappaport, member and volunteer of the Society of Actuaries in Chicago. “For example, some people have major financial challenges, and others do not; some get depressed and bored. People need to contribute and have purpose in life. If their main purpose was their job, they need to find a new passion and/or purpose. Also, many people retire not by choice–either due to job problems, health issues or their family needing them as caregivers.”
These non-monetary problems can be more detrimental than issues dealing with the financial side of your life. Fortunately, they can be addressed in the same way. “Retirement can be a challenge for many, and it is a bit of an archaic construct,” says Lawrence Sprung, founder of Mitlin Financial in Hauppauge, New York. “The concept was built when people’s life expectancies were much lower.
There can be a tremendous loss of purpose for those that retire early, putting them in a position not to experience joy and undergo mental health struggles. Just like you financially plan for retirement, you need to plan mentally too.” Don’t underestimate the loss of purpose. During your career, you had a regular schedule. That gave your life purpose. You might even think it gave your life meaning. This all changes in retirement.
“One of the main problems people face when they retire is a lack of purpose and meaning in their lives,” says Dennis Shirshikov, the Head of Growth for Awning.com in New York City and a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches finance, economics, and accounting. “Many retirees struggle with feelings of boredom, loneliness, and isolation, which can lead to depression and other mental health issues.”
Whether it’s financial problems or mental hurdles, retirement presents a challenge. Are you ready to take on that challenge? And what will you do to address these challenges? There are answers you can consider.
I recently moved to a new apartment, an occasion that calls for celebration—preferably outdoors in my brand-new backyard. But I didn’t expect how much being in a different space would disrupt my sense of safety. So I worried—about my cat escaping out the front door, how to protect my family from COVID, raccoon-transmitted diseases, and more.
After reading Elaine Fox’s new book Switch Craft: The Hidden Power of Mental Agility, I have a better idea of what’s going on. I fall into the category of someone who’s uncomfortable with uncertainty. I love a good routine, and moving disrupted all of mine. I have a need to feel in control of my circumstances, but just about everything in my immediate surroundings changed.
Maybe you fit this description, too, and you have trouble coping when life is full of unknowns or when things don’t turn out as you expected. According to Fox, what we need to cultivate is mental agility—a nimbleness in how we think, feel, and act that will allow us to adapt to changing circumstances.
Feeling uncomfortable with uncertainty
Uncertainty arises when we’re in new situations, like a move or a new job, or when we’re in unpredictable situations—like when we have a job interview, a medical test, an injury, or the possibility of layoffs at work.
Because our brains are future-predicting machines, it’s natural to want to avoid ambiguity. “As human beings, we crave security, and that is why all of us are intolerant of uncertainty to some extent,” writes Fox.
But some have this tendency more than others. For example, you might be intolerant of uncertainty if you love planning, hate surprises, and get frustrated when unexpected things mess up your day. Someone who has trouble with uncertainty might find it hard to make decisions in ambiguous circumstances, because they feel like they don’t have enough information and don’t want to make the wrong choice.
To avoid the discomfort of uncertainty, some of us engage in what Fox calls “safety behaviors”—things like making lots of lists, constantly double checking, overpreparing, or seeking reassurance from others. For example, you might read a restaurant menu in advance, or repeatedly check in on your kid to make sure they’re doing OK.
healthyIf you dislike uncertainty, you might also be a worrier, because worrying actually gives us a sense of control in a difficult situation—at least we’re doing something! You might also shy away from challenges that you could fail at, and lean on tried-and-true pathways in life.
Someone who is psychologically flexible is open to change, or may even find change exciting. When they’re working on a problem, they try lots of different solutions. They don’t see the world in black and white, they like to learn from others, and they often have some unusual ideas of their own.
Mental agility shines when we’re facing change, when things don’t go as expected, or when the future is particularly unpredictable—like, say, when travel plans fall through, going through a divorce, or in a pandemic. At that moment, some people demotioig their heels in and keep doing what they’ve always done. But mentally agile people are able to recognize when what they’re doing isn’t working, and change things up.
“There is no one-size-fits-all solution to any of life’s problems,” writes Fox.
She likes the metaphor of using different clubs on a golf course, depending on whether you’re hitting a long shot, swinging from a bunker, or putting. “Life is exactly like that—we’re going to be faced with quite different types of problems and different types of obstacles to get around, and we need different approaches for all of those.”
It comes down to the choice of stick or switch: Should I keep pursuing the same thoughts, feelings, and actions, or do I need to switch to something new?
For example, she says, parents need a veritable smorgasbord of strategies to raise their children, everything from tough discipline and strict boundaries to treating kids to ice cream and a day off. Knowing when to use which one is a sign of healthy flexibility. The same goes for leaders at work, who might want to change the way they manage their employees when the company is going through a season of stress.
Coping strategies are another good example. Psychologists like to group them into two main types: emotion-focused and problem-focused. Emotion-focused strategies change the way we feel, like distracting ourselves, getting support from friends, or looking at the situation from a different perspective. Problem-focused strategies, on the other hand, involve taking action to solve the problem directly.
No one strategy works all the time, and you’ll often see people get stuck in their favorite way of coping. If you tend toward distraction and denial, you might avoid dealing with a problem that you actually could have solved; if you’re an inveterate problem-solver, you might feel helpless and angry when confronting a problem—or a loved one’s—that has no solution, when all that’s really needed is support and connection.
How to cultivate mental agility
Fox’s book is full of tips to cultivate mental agility, as well as other related skills that can help you roll with the punches in life. Here are a few that felt most practical and new to me.
Surrender to transitions. When something changes in your life—you leave a job, end a relationship, or lose someone you love—recognize that you’re now in a transition. Transitions take time to move through, and they can’t be rushed. Your identity (as an employee, partner, or friend, perhaps) will have to shift and change, as well. Be kind and accepting, and don’t expect too much of yourself as you struggle through this time.
Prepare for change in advance. Sometimes change is unexpected, and other times you see it coming. When you anticipate a big change in life, spend some time exploring your feelings around it. You can list all the ways your life will change, and identify the ones that are causing you anxiety. Give yourself the opportunity to mourn what you will leave behind, but also devote some of your attention to new opportunities that you’re excited about.
Seek out small uncertainties. You can build up your tolerance for uncertainty, Fox explains, by gradually exposing yourself to it on purpose. For example, you could reach out to an acquaintance you haven’t seen in a while, try bargaining for an item you want to buy, or check social media less frequently.
Change up your perspective. One way to do this is to find something small that annoys you, and try to see the silver lining to it. For example, maybe your commute got longer, but that means you have extra time to listen to podcasts.
When you’re facing a problem, you could change your perspective by brainstorming a handful of solutions, rather than trying to figure out the perfect correct one. Or make list of people you admire, and ask yourself: What would they do in your place?
Ask a different question. When life is hard, we often find ourselves harping on “why” questions: “Why is this happening to me?” In those moments, Fox suggests letting go of the “why” and asking “how” instead: “How can I change this situation?” Or perhaps you’re already asking a “how” question, but the wrong one: Instead of “How do I stop working so much?,” she explains, try an easier question: “How can I find time to go to the gym?”
Move past worry. Repetitive worrying is one of the most common rigid thought patterns we get stuck in. To break free from it, identify whether the problem you’re worrying about is solvable or not—and take action if you can. If there’s nothing you can do, Fox suggests recording yourself talking in detail about your worries, and then listening to the recording repeatedly until your worries don’t have as much of a hold on you.
It’s been about two months since my move, and my brain has calmed down about all the changes. (Surrender to transitions—got it.) I definitely see the appeal of being someone who moves through life agilely and with curiosity, letting things happen as they may and feeling confident I’ll figure out how to deal with them. Lists gripped tightly in hand, I have trouble ever imagining myself that way.
But Fox’s book helped put a name and an explanation on something I struggle with, so at least I have a goal to aspire to. Since reading it, I have noticed my knee-jerk resistance to plans changing or doing things someone else’s way, and I have been able to let go. I doubt anyone will ever call me spontaneous and easygoing, but at least I can make a point to expect the unexpected in life..
Kira M. Newman is the managing editor of Greater Good. Her work has been published in outlets including the Washington Post, Mindful magazine, Social Media Monthly, and Tech.co, and she is the co-editor of The Gratitude Project. Follow her on Twitter!
With everything going on in the world right now, there is a feeling of general unease blanketing our nation. While I cannot speak to the politics of foreign governments, I can mourn for the lives lost in the current struggles and share my thoughts on how I see the markets reacting.
“It’s different this time.”
These are the words overheard every time there is a market correction, and they are both true and false.
True: the world events and news du jour precipitating each market correction creates a unique blend of circumstances.
But false: the responses to and best practices during and after a correction are not different this time. The fundamentals are unchanged. Regardless of the news headlines, all investors are still either buyers, holders, or sellers. The only thing different during today’s market correction versus prior periods of volatility is that we are each older than we were the last time this happened, so we may be at different stages of our financial lives.
The strategies and advice for this period of volatility are the same as the last time. If you are a buyer (adding to accounts regularly), stay the course and try to take advantage of the volatility. If you are a holder (neither adding to nor withdrawing from accounts), make sure you have no expected need for invested capital for the next five years and sit tight.
If you are a seller (withdrawing from accounts regularly), make sure you have short-term and intermediate-term accounts which are positioned conservatively and allow your other longer-term accounts to stay fully invested.
We have been through tough markets before, and we’ll go through them again. The most important lesson we can learn from the past is to not repeat the same mistakes. Investors who took advantage of being buyers or resisted change as holders or sellers made out beautifully by staying put. Those investors who were positioned inappropriately or who were positioned responsibly but reacted emotionally suffered significant financial damage.
Don’t just do something, sit there.
That’s not a misprint. Sometimes the best advice is to do nothing–to not react to the news cycle day-to-day. Invariably, this is another opportunity to take that advice. If your portfolio is structured well, it should be able to withstand whatever comes our way. Take a deep breath and remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and do nothing.
We’re coming out of a two-year global pandemic with a recovering supply chain and pent-up consumer demand. The Russian actions in Ukraine are reprehensible and may impact energy prices and delay the economic recovery from the pandemic, but like all news stories this one will be the daily headline until it isn’t, and it will be replaced by something which feels “different this time” soon thereafter.
You can take the time to emotionally react to the news of the world, but I would advise you never to act emotionally regarding financial decisions.
If you do not feel your portfolio is structured to withstand market corrections, this may be a good time to speak with your financial advisor or to get a second opinion from a different one.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra Investment Services, LLC or Kestra Advisory Services, LLC. This is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual.
It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regards to your individual situation. Comments concerning the past performance are not intended to be forward looking and should not be viewed as an indication of future results.
Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS. Brotman Financial Group, Inc. and BFG Financial Advisors are not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS.
The world became a very uncertain place in the last week, which means more risk in many aspects of our lives, especially markets.
For the last decade or so, markets seemed to only go up; since the pandemic, risk became a bigger issue.
Volatile investors expect markets to be over the next 3 months based on options prices.
The world became a very uncertain place in the last week. This means more risk in many aspects of our lives, especially markets. For the last decade or so, markets seemed to only go up, but since the pandemic, risk became a bigger issue.
The figure below is the 3-month implied volatility from the S&P 500; it shows how volatile investors expect markets to be over the next 3 months based on options prices. We see a big increase in the early days of the pandemic, before settling into a higher range.
Between uncertainty around Fed policy and events in Europe, we can expect even more volatility going forward. Many households came out of the pandemic with more wealth than before, and this fueled the recovery. But if markets stay so volatile, their 401(K)s will take a hit and people will start to feel much less secure.
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.
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?