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Do you have uncertainty fatigue?

How are you faring? Do you find yourself easily getting upset, frustrated and angry? Are you tired and feeling glum? Or are you focusing on what you can control and in a good routine?

Of course, we do not come to this Covid situation as equals: it is so much more challenging for some than others. Last night I spoke to my dear friend in Bali. Her mother had commented that Bali is now like it was in 1965. The hotels are deserted and their swimming pools are green, there is no work and the focus for everyone is simply the next bowl of rice – not nutrition, but just rice in the stomach.

Here in Australia, we are entering into uncertainty fatigue with further lockdowns affecting much of the country. We don’t know what is happening. When will it end? Will it end? Will it be bad? There are lots of questions we don’t know the answers to. And on top of that, for many there is the mentally taxing situation of working from home, with little social contact.

Researchers at the Business School at Sydney University looked at how such indirect threats affect us. When there is a direct threat, it is clear what is needed but with uncertainty it is different and the brain does not like it!

It is unsettling, overwhelming and exhausting. This is largely because the brain is a predicting machine. The ability to predict is based on input from our past experience. It is reassuring for us to be able to predict the future. On the other hand the brain is wired to find uncertainty aversive, unsettling. Neurological wiring tells us that it triggers fear and worry.

We have come out of bushfires and a long first run with Covid, only to find ourselves now back in lockdown. But we have also come from a place where extremely high demands were put on us in terms of the pace at which we work and our productivity. Traditional ways of working have been shown to be unsustainable and undesirable for many people. For decades we have prioritised being effective and efficient in achieving outcomes but now our focus has to shift. It has to shift to how we are travelling.

The other day I was doing a training session with a group and on checking in, a few of them said that really they did not have time for this. They had a million emails to deal with. We did a little exercise that you might like to try. Close the eyes and repeat: “I am busy” over and over. Notice how it feels in the body. Now repeat: “I am at ease”. At the end of this, allow the outbreath to be longer than the inbreath. Notice how it feels in the body now.

No change to the emails, right? But how you feel has changed. And this is what we have to claim and work on right now – how we travel. We tend to think that all in the world has to be sorted in order for us to be ok but this is neither realistic nor helpful.

The French philosopher Montaigne said that he hoped to die tending his garden without any concern for whether the garden is finished or not.

Right now, I suggest you drop the pressure on outcomes, dial down and focus on how you are travelling.

A gear change is required in this second year of the pandemic. We need to focus on psychological stamina, on how we are travelling. If you read last month’s newsletter, you might see that this means swinging into the feminine. It is the feminine perspective to focus on the quality of the being rather than the doing.

Currently I am taking longer breaks, longer walks, and accepting that work has been dialled down by 80%, yet I can still eat.

I am also taking stock of how I work. You might like to ask yourself whether the way you work is sustainable. Cut yourself some slack. Be less of a perfectionist, less outcome- and goal-focused. I am being much gentler with myself, and lowering expectations.

Acknowledge and surrender to uncertainty. We realise that the idea that we know what is coming is a delusion anyway. Reality is that our lives can change any moment, no guarantee of anything.
Irrespective of what happens all we have to do is manage the moment. One moment at a time. That means if you are worrying about the future, remind yourself that you will just have to manage the moment then too. This means that key is building our ability to manage the moment.

Consider what you can control and what you cannot. Focus on what you can control. For example, you can control when you get up in the morning. You can control what you eat, how you show up with friends, the walks you take, the breaks you have, what you pay attention to, and the media you watch.

You can make what is within your control as lovely as possible. And of what you can control, what is best for you and what harms you? This is the time to take this question seriously, and revise and amend accordingly.

When I wake up, I do a little “Dear body” practice. Hand over the heart while gently reassuring the body that we are ok. Then comes the walk followed by a delicious breakfast. I have my breakfast outside in the sun if possible. I have dialled down Netflix and screen watching in general, I am reading more, dancing more, just sitting, and I am cooking great food, if I do say so myself!

Making sure that you have a good sleep routine is also essential. When does your sleep train come in? And are you ready on the station when it does?

Another thing within our control is of course Mindfulness practice.  And to support us all in this we are doing our free online Mindful Morning sessions starting Monday, August 9. Register here to join us:

Sign up for Mindful Mornings: Free daily sessions here >>

For the workplace, however that looks right now, we have a handout for looking at work habits – good tips for meetings, to-do-lists, working rhythm.  If you would like a copy, please email me.

As you know we have our Kartini project where we are currently supplying 61 families with half their rice needs monthly.  If you have spare money it would be deeply appreciated, contact me directly.

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