From uncertainty burnout to restoring hope. In mid-March I was in Mexico City at a small gathering of entrepreneurs. After we left the US to travel to Mexico, we watched as Europe was steadily shutting down as Covid-19 was rapidly spreading. I watched in stunned disbelief. So many countries I had visited before struggled against this new reality. The group I was with in Mexico had entrepreneurs from several countries in Europe. I remember another entrepreneur saying to me “You don’t understand what is coming. It’s really bad”. From the look on his face, I knew that indeed I didn’t understand what was about to happen.
There is no way to explain the savagery that this has wreaked on our economies. Many health care systems are buckling, and our collective mental health is suffering. It is playing out now and in the coming months. It will continue to play out as countries re-open and we enter the next phase. We already know that many small businesses across the world may not survive. It’s simply a lot to process, right?
Like many of you, I have been respecting and riding an emotional roller coaster. I noticed recently that I’ve been exceptionally tired. As I talk with others, I am hearing a similar experience. As a world, our previous lives have been fractured or shattered. Many of us are experiencing a broken heart over the size and scale of what has happened. We don’t know the long term impacts on us or our children, as a result of what is happening. And the news stream is simply relentless.
Doesn’t this just feel like a really weird and difficult time?
We need new language to describe what many of us are feeling. We are experiencing what I call uncertainty burnout. The political environment in many countries had already given us large doses of uncertainty. Up, down, and all around. Then along came the pandemic. Pandemics are not something many of us have experienced. Our coping skills were already reduced by what we were experiencing before this happened. We are having to process something very difficult to understand whilst in isolation. It’s like trying to run blindfolded up the stairs with only one foot!
While all this is happening, my inner maverick is starting to show up. That little wilfully independent part of me that this virus tried to quash. It’s signing Tom Petty’s “Won’t back down” in case you need theme music. In the quiet moments, my inner maverick reflects on what Coivd-19 won’t be allowed to do: steal our right to hope.
From uncertainty burnout to restoring hope. As humans, we have the right to hope. The right to hope and the desire to hope are two different things. We have the right, but many of us are struggling with the desire to hope. How do you focus on rebuilding the desire to hope? Navigating the burnout from uncertainty is required in order to sow the seeds of hope. What are some ideas on how to plant those seeds inside?
Idea 1: Observe the seasons
Connecting with nature is very important. If you are allowed to drive right now, a short day trip in the car lets you observe what is happening in nature. Can’t get out and drive due to restrictions? Even a careful look out most windows will let you see something similar. Look carefully and closely. Open a window. What do you see?
The seasons are changing, and nature’s signs are everywhere. If you are approaching spring or already there, do you hear sounds of nature? In this quiet time of limited travel, many are noticing birds in their neighbourhoods for the first time. They were always there, we just weren’t listening. There is no social distancing yourself out of the natural changes in seasons. They remind us that life is fragile and resilient. As are we too. Observe this season of life.
Idea 2: Embrace the season
Yes, we are all stuck at home for long periods of time right now. And this will keep playing out. Consider turning to gardening and having plants around. Plants also allow us to reconnect with nature. Watching shoots come up from seed and realising we had a part in it, is good for our psyche. Planting flowers, vegetables or shrubs gives us an outlet and give us something delightfully different to think about, even if only for a few moments. What if you don’t have a yard? Potted plants can do nicely, or even flowers from the local florist. Plants can help brighten your day. Let them work their magic on you.
Idea 3: Connect with your local seasons
Around the world, we are collectively struggling. Our economies have been badly hurt, and our local businesses are feeling the strain. So many businesses have been closed, and we know many of them may be permanent. Many local businesses are in a difficult season. How can you help? To the extent you can with social distancing and other restrictions, supporting local businesses can inspire us.
From uncertainty burnout to restoring hope
Haven’t really done it before? Time to consult your search engines and figure out what is open. This writer has used it as a delightful excuse to send flowers to friends, consume chocolate from local sweet shops (someone has to do it), and purchase takeout from restaurants. From the looks in the eyes of the employees where we have been spending money, we know the seeds of hope are firmly planted.
Uncertainty burnout is prevalent for many of us right now. There is no one cure for it at this time. By embracing our inner maverick, we can start planting seeds of hope as we enter this next season.