Coping with Uncertainty During the 2022 Holidays
Coping with uncertainty is a theme I’ve explored before, but it seems to have a lot of relevance for the end of our current year, 2022.
As we come to the end of this year, we certainly seem to be coping with uncertainty. In our post-modern world, things often seem pretty precarious, Yet, this year seems to take the cake! We seem to have just barely cleared the pandemic. We have a very strained medical system, and a crisis situation with children in need of care for respiratory diseases.
We also seem to have an economy that is giving very mixed messages. We still have high inflation. We also have interest rates that are going up to attempt to counter it. Due to the inflation, and the aftermath of the pandemic, many people are finding it tougher to make ends meet.
In addition to all of this, the pandemic’s aftershocks continue to be felt. Many social events that flourished with large attendances in 2019 can’t seem to get the same numbers of people out in 2022. Restaurants and coffee shops that bulged at the seams a few short years ago seem sparsely populated. A great many people seem quite tentative about their Holiday plans.
Just at the moment, we seem to be in a world where people hedge their bets far more than they used to do. At the end of 2022, there is a potent feeling of uncertainty in the air.
Coping with Uncertainty Affects Us
When we seek to cope with an environment that has a heightened level of uncertainty, we experience a heightened level of stress. This is something that we carry in both our bodies and our minds. The experience of stress associated with matters of importance in our lives can easily lead to anxiety or depression. It’s important that we understand in a self-compassionate way when we’re under stress, and that we have ways to deal with it that are healthy and good for us.
Holiday anxiety can have some very dramatic effects. The Holidays may foster love, generosity and kind-heartedness in many ways. However, they can also bring a heightened sense of obligation and expectations. Add this to the kind of uncertainty many are experiencing in the present time, and it can result in difficult anxiety-related symptoms. These could include:
- Excessive worry, that doesn’t go away;
- Physical anxiety symptoms (e,g., shortness of breath, shaking, dizziness, upset stomach, or dry mouth);
- Social withdrawal and isolation due to anxiety;
- Changes in appetite and weight, in either direction;
- Feeling helpless or hopeless; or,
- Insomnia or sleep disturbances.
The Questions That Uncertainty Asks
Uncertainty can ask us deep and difficult questions about our lives. It asks us to take in the chances and changes of life. It asks us what remains stable and retains its value, given the flow of life. How can we respond?
One possible response is simple denial. We can just ignore the reality of uncertainties. We can act as if everything is secure and stable. Or, engage in a range of distractions to keep from focusing on the uncertainty. Yet it’s likely that the effects of the uncertainty, and the anxiety associated with it, will creep into our lives.
This Holiday season can be a time of joy, but it can also highlight the precarious nature of our lives. What kind of answers can we give to the unknowns and anxieties that we experience? How do we manage coping with uncertainty?
Answers That Sustain Us
[T]he point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Where can we focus, to sustain us in our own personal journey? Certainly, we need to look at how to take care of ourselves through the Holiday season, and into the New Year. We need to identify ways to be compassionate to ourselves, and to practice self-care. We also need to set appropriate boundaries with respect to time, commitments and expenditures. We also need to find ways to maximize our sense of personal power, and of being in control of our lives. And we need to find what carries meaning in our individual lives. Where do we find what has value for us personally, and where do we touch the reality of our own unique souls?
Work with a supportive Jungian analyst can assist us greatly with all these areas of focus. With its emphasis on the unique importance of each of our individual life journeys, and the ways that the Self is seeking to express itself in our unique lives, a Jungian approach can open us up to the value and grace of our own individual life journey. At the Holiday season, this may be the gift for which we most deeply yearn.
With every good wish for the Holidays, and for your unique personal journey,
© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario