Uncertainty is nothing new to most people. In fact, we go through various levels of uncertainty every day; some big and some small. As a society we are facing what can seem like an uncertain environment right now, making us have all kinds of emotions – some that make sense and some that probably do not. It is not our place to give you guidance on what and how to feel or think, but rather provide some perspective and tools you can use to navigate through this time without losing your sanity! We are using some of these ideas ourselves and hope that they can help you as well. Stay positive, our friends!
1. Avoid Getting Caught up in Extremes, especially when dealing with an uncertain environment
We live in a society where it is easy to get caught up in extremes, and an uncertain environment certainly contributes to that. Technology has connected us so that anyone with enough time, money, and resources can disseminate info to large masses of people that may have a profound influence. The more sensational an idea, the more it promotes dopamine to be released in our brains, which causes us to continue to crave more. It is difficult to find truth:
- Many times, we resort to attempts to control external factors to break this cycle. We try to catch all the drug dealers to prevent the spread of drugs; we ban our children from social media so that they do not get depressed; and we restrict soda sales in certain restaurants so that people do not consume too much sugar.
- The problem with this approach is that it has limited effect and can actually lead to a higher release of dopamine when engaging in the behavior that is trying to be prevented. People will find a way if they really want to do something.
A better approach may be to look internally, instead of externally. For instance, you cannot prevent your children from experiencing social media for their entire lives. The fact is that it is part of our world now, so it may make more sense to prepare them for it:
- You can teach your children about the dangers of social media and more importantly, how to think for themselves.
- You can help them feel connected to a group of people who realize the drawbacks of a certain behavior and help them develop a sense of purpose.
This process releases oxytocin and serotonin in the brain which make you feel less fear. These chemicals make you feel better, so you can create a feedback loop where the desired behavior is more likely to occur in the future.
2. Get a Balanced Perspective and Stay Informed when Dealing with an Uncertain Environment
Try to take in news and information from a variety of sources. There are many media organizations today that are partisan in their reporting and that can make it difficult to discern the truth. This type of reporting is opinion based and not necessarily facts based.
As long as we are aware of that we can learn to balance our news intake from many media outlets and also find some resources that are non-partisan and continue to stay well informed.
At the same time, we recommend that people do not get sucked into the negativity of social media. We have seen many posts and videos full of negativity that only sow seeds of discord instead of bringing us closer together. Instead, engage in the positive aspects of social media like watching old cartoons with your kids or reconnecting with friends.
3. Stay Healthy
To keep your mind healthy, it is also important to keep your body healthy. During uncertain times it is particularly important to focus on the things that you can control and staying healthy is one of them:
- Continuing to exercise every day, even if it is just a short walk or a quick bike ride will make you get both fresh air and work out your body. You will feel better for getting out and being in control of your body and mind.
- Continue, or start, to eat well. It is sometimes all to easy to just grab some junk food to make us feel better for the moment but eating well will make both body and mind feel better. It is all about moderation!
- Relax and disconnect from media to let your mind take a break and recharge.
- Read a good book and listen to music. These activities will let you “escape” and also let your mind focus on whatever topic you choose, be it entertaining or educational. You are in control.
- Last, but not least, get enough sleep. Your body and mind need to rest at the end of the day to be ready for another day tomorrow.
4. Share your thoughts and concerns with likeminded people, seek common ground, and be understanding of the “other side”
While we recommend not getting caught up in extremes it is also important to recognize that we are all entitled to our opinions. We sometimes need to talk about our opinions and feelings surrounding them and it is important for you to have an outlet to do so. To be the most constructive we recommend:
- Engage in conversations with likeminded people that share your views. This will be a “safe” environment for you to let your voice be heard and to get your feelings out.
- Try not to engage in debates where the outcome is predetermined to cause prolonged disagreements. Of course, we should not hide from controversial conversations, but when you know that the outcome of a conversation will be detrimental to your relationship, we recommend not to do it. Ask yourself “Is there anything to gain from engaging in this conversation or am I just trying to convince this person of my opinion (or vice versa)?” before you engage in the discussion.
- Instead, seek common ground: What can you agree upon with others that you both believe is in the best interest for you, the country, and the world.
- Be understanding of “the other side”. There is a reason for how they feel – they may be scared, uninformed, or come from a different background than you.
- Even if you cannot change their mind, and they cannot change yours, you can gain an understanding and respect for how they feel.
5. Make donations and serve the community
It is a great time to help others during the COVID pandemic and the upcoming holiday season and helping others has an almost magical way of making you feel good. You are helping others in need and you are helping yourself by spreading positivity. Some ideas of what you can do:
- Go through your closets, toss what should go and donate what you no longer need
- Pack boxes for children in need. We participate in Operation Christmas Child every year through Samaritan’s Purse and our children feel great about being part of helping other children and making a difference.
- Donate food to local organizations. More people in the US need food today than in a long time due to the pandemic.
- Serve the community in other ways by helping keep our communities clean, safe, and welcoming.
We hope you got some value out of this list and that you can apply some of these ideas to stay positive in an uncertain environment!
As always, in terms of your investments, we recommend that you stay the course as long-term investing remains the best way to build and accumulate wealth. Do not let the fear of the “crisis of the day” derail you from reaching your goals!