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Resiliency in Uncertainty

We are past the midpoint of this most challenging of years and in some ways, there's no more certainty now than there was some months ago.  Business and personal plans continue to be postponed or cancelled, and the responses of those whom we love have often differed from our own.  The challenge for a Gent, should he choose to accept it, is to continue to build resiliency during these uncertain times, because that's exactly what the community around him needs.

Physical Reactions

The human body, in general, doesn't like uncertainty.  The default reaction is alert: our adrenal glands produce more cortisol and adrenaline when we detect uncertainty.  This plays out psychologically as well.  We would rather know something bad is coming (so we can prepare for it) than stew in uncertainty.  Hence, if you've been feeling edgy or have been having trouble sleeping in the past months generally or in the past weeks especially, it's not a coincidence.  Your body is trying to prepare you for a worst-case scenario.

Once you understand this is a natural reaction that your body is going through to protect you, you can then take action to better deal with those reactions.

Remedies

There are lots of ways to deal with the uncertainty that seems to be affecting the whole world, not just our own community.  Here are five:

  • Focus on what you can control.  We have a limited sphere of influence, no matter what social media leads us to believe.  Instead of trying to solve all the world's problems, we should surrender what we cannot control and focus on what we can.  Not only is this the best use of your time and energy, it's where you can most help out those who depend on you.
  • Slow down and be intentional.  Panic and fear tend to accelerate our sense of time.  Intentionally counteract that by reaffirming why you are doing what you are doing on a daily basis, whether at worship, at work, with your loved ones, or even by yourself.  Meditation, prayer, and journaling (whether morning pages or tracking gratitude) can really assist here.
  • Take care of yourself.  Having a routine, in which things are consistent no matter what the weather is like or how we are feeling, is directly opposed to the wandering randomness of uncertainty.  Routines help ground us at all times, but never more helpfully than during a time of uncertainty.  This is particularly true of exercise, which produces chemicals that directly counteract stress that your body is feeling.
  • Give and get social support.  Check in with loved ones and with those who you know don't have that many friends or loved ones around.  Be open to different ways that people want to get that support.  Some may not yet be comfortable meeting you in person, so meet them on a level they are comfortable, whether that be via an online call or chatting in a driveway or in a park.  Give the empathy you want for yourself and your views, knowing that this uncertainty affects everyone in different ways.
  • Take a break.  Vacations look very different this year, but they are more vital than ever.  The muscle that is forever straining will break, and focusing only on work will inevitably erode your performance over time.  However challenging it might be to "get away," even if only for a few days, it will be worth it.

What are some tactics you've been using to keep yourself on track and thriving during this time?  Share with us in the comments.

Ben Davis

About Ben Davis

A serial entrepreneur, Ben Davis is founder of The Gents Place and a leading investor in gentlemen's refinement and confidence.

Ben,

You are absolutely right. I’ve been working through the issues presented by the pandemic with exactly these ideas. First, I started with Stoic reasoning and that, at its core, is focusing on what you can control and not what you can’t. (Your point one.) Second, I’m prioritizing living in the present and with intention. Stoicism leads directly to this. And minimalism too, but what’s a gent to do? I do this by practicing meditation and gratitude daily. (Your point two.) Third, I improved my cooking and my exercising. Both of these have improved the numbers my doctor always mentions…. (Your point three.) Finally, I’ve reached out as much as possible these days to reconnect and reinforce my relationships. They are key to a happy life. (Your point four).

Thanks for all the great posts. The Eight and Bob story was great! My favorite scent.

Brad

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