Last week, in our post, Our Brains, we shared a powerful quote from the article, Our Brains Were Not Built for This Much Uncertainty (September 22, 2021), by Heidi Grant and Tal Goldhamer.
In our post, we listed suggestions of things you could do to add some predictability into your days. While the list we added to the post seemed helpful, some of you wrote and asked for additional suggestions and examples to care for your brains.
So, today, we’re providing you with some of the things we’ve done and things our clients have done, that have been helpful.
We know that any one of these things won’t change the level of uncertainty in your life and the strain on your brain, but doing a few of them regularly will ground you over time.
Experiment with different ideas and give it a week or so before deciding whether or not it works for you
Change how you talk with yourself.
- Keep a gratitude journal and push yourself to look for those things in your day that you’re grateful for. These can be very small to quite grand. The goal is to shift your eyes and therefore your brain to scanning for what’s positive and meaningful in your life.
- Several times a day ask yourself if what you’re doing with your moments is in alignment with your goals and values. Doing this brings you back to the center of your life, which is where you belong. Right now, it’s tempting to put the news, the pandemic, and the losses at the center of your life, but they don’t belong there – you, your goals, and your values do.
- Identify one thing each day that you’re good at and put it on a post-it or note card somewhere you can see it; a mirror can be very powerful because it’s a reflection of you.
- Some things you might note:
- I’m a great parent.
- I always remember birthdays.
- I’m good at saying hard things in a compassionate way.I’m a great dog/cat/horse parent.
- I can be very funny.
- I add value to our meetings.
- My smile helped someone have a better day.
- You get the idea…
Change how you talk with others.
- Don’t take others’ reactions and moods personally and take care of yourself. If the people around you are snarky or insulting, consider taking some space.
- When you have some space, reflect what the person who is being snarky or insulting, might be afraid of. Consider that their behavior might be fear for all that they’re dealing with in their life. With that in mind, explore if there are ways you can support them feeling a greater sense of safety.
- When you’re grateful for something someone has said or done, add it to your gratitude list and tell them you’re grateful.
- Be careful not to ask or expect others in your life to make things okay. We’re finding ourselves saying “where are the grownups?!?” We say that as if someone out there can make our lives and this world better. The truth is, knowing your goals and values, and taking action on your own behalf is the most predictable way to shift things in your days.
Connect with your values and purpose.
- Many people nod when they hear this but as they sit down to do it, they aren’t quite sure where to start. Consider these prompts:
- I’m at my happiest when I am…
- The last time I felt proud of myself I was doing…
- I love it when people describe me as…
- I can see my impact on…
- I need to avoid…if I’m going to be at my best.
- …provides a distraction, but it’s not great for me.
Nurture important relationships.
- While nurturing important relationships could involve something big, for most of us it’s a shift in frequency and consistency that makes sense.
- Who do you want to stay connected with?
- Who can you let know that you care about them?
- Who makes you laugh and lightens your heart?
- Who can you talk with deeply?
- What store or shop has employees that greet you warmly and genuinely?
- Who is easy to take a walk with, play a game or do a puzzle with, or go on a hike or bike ride with?
- As you start to think of the different people who make your life richer and can remind your brain that some things are quite certain, make a time to connect with those people in whatever way you can.
- Write a postcard or note.
- Send a text.
- Make a phone call.
- Go to the shop a bit more often.
- Plan regular hikes or bike rides.
- Identify one or two important connections. Discuss how you’re both doing and explore ways to take care of yourselves. Perhaps you ask them to be an accountability partner.
- Be careful with those relationships you feel you “should” attend to more but that you find are depleting. Consider ways to connect with them from a distance.
- When we say rest, oftentimes people hear sleep, nap, hang out, but we’ve seen that it can come in a range of ways, like:
- Painting or coloring
- Using previous commute times to take a walk
- Reading to children
- Sitting in the sun or being in nature
- Petting an animal
- Watching the birds
- Listening to an audiobook
- One of the things Linda’s daughter suggested was creating a Time Affluence List. It’s a list of things to do, big and small, when there is open time. We found this helpful. When we’re used to going fast in a culture of uncertainty, the availability of time can stymie us, and we end up doing something that’s easy but not always nourishing.
This week, take some time to consider a few things that will provide your brain with greater certainty, additional opportunities to notice the fits in your life, and ways to connect more deeply with yourself, and when you want it, others.
We’re here if we can be helpful.