Last night I was on the phone to my brother, planning a boat trip for our two families to enjoy together. It would be a 3 hour trip, with food, exploring an area we were both keen to see. But sadly 2020 struck again. Shortly after we finished our call, the UK government announced that due to the rise in covid cases, only 6 people can meet up from Monday. With 11 in our combined households we had to abandon our plans, grateful the announcement came before we booked the tickets.
So how can we navigate life in such uncertain times? Our instinct is to be in control of our surroundings, but 2020 has shown us how limited our sense of control is. Uncertainty increases anxiety, and makes us want to pull back from planning for the future. It can seem tempting to simply give up and live day by day worrying about what tomorrow will bring. But there is another way.
Preparing for the certainties in life, having a plan to follow and the anticipation of things ahead can all help reduce anxiety.
“Buy winter coats!” was the advice given to me one warm September day when my children were small . The shops were suddenly full of thick warm winter coats and although it didn’t seem likely on that particular day, we knew that winter was coming. My children had grown, and new coats were needed so it was something I could plan for and take action on. The alternative was to wait, as I had done previously, until the first unexpected frosty morning and panic shop amongst empty rails while feeling like a bad mother.
“Buy winter coats!” is now the mantra that runs through my mind as I see birthday cards a month before a friend’s special birthday, when new diaries are appearing on the shelves, when a new financial year starts and the clock starts ticking to submitting a tax return. Never again do I want to be looking for Christmas Crackers on Christmas eve!
Sometimes I act, sometimes I procrastinate. However, planning ahead, and being prepared, always gives me a sense of calm which is so much nicer than the anxiety caused by last minute panics.
During this pandemic I’ve found it even more beneficial to act on the things I can so the things I can’t don’t impact me as much.
And as for the boating trip… we’re planning to go in spring!