In a study conducted by Michael Dooley at Washington College, the researchers studied three separate groups waiting in painful uncertainty. They recruited attendees from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, recent job-seeking doctoral students, and law school graduates taking the bar exam, and solicited open-ended responses on how they received support. social.
Unsurprisingly, most people just wanted someone to show up, whether it was answering the phone, listening to their frustrations, or in this case standing in physical proximity, 6 feet in the yard, wearing a mask. But evacuating and finding common ground online can also backfire if you start to ruminate on your negative thoughts.
“Different things work for different people at different times. Most of the time, we don’t know what we want on our own, ”Sweeny said. “It’s not about good or bad support, it’s really about meeting a person’s needs in the moment.”
If you aren’t getting the support you need from friends and family, be open and honest about what helps and what doesn’t. If you’re upset that you won’t be eligible for the vaccine for months on end, it probably won’t relieve your distress of having a long lecture on how Uncle Weehoo first earned it. “That’s why I didn’t tell anyone on social media when I got the vaccine,” Sweeny said with a laugh. “Judgments like this are not appreciated around the world.”
Find your feed
One of the most effective tips for allaying the agony of painful uncertainty is finding ways to stop thinking about it. Sweeny’s work has shown that achieving a state of wonder helps a lot. You can become amazed by contemplating things that make you feel small in the grand scheme – whether listening to a wonderful piano sonata, watching a few episodes of Earth, or find a random canyon to look into.
“Awe is a complex feeling, but as a result it’s quite powerful,” Sweeny said. “It seems to be good in times of uncertainty.”
Certainly, however, some people are more open to the experience of fear than others. And not everyone can go out to their back patio and watch the Northern Lights every time they need a boost. Conscious meditation has also been shown to be effective in breaking the cycle of anxious and obsessive thinking, but similarly not everyone is able or willing to sit and breathe for five to ten minutes each day.
Perhaps the most feasible way to distract yourself is to achieve a ‘state of flux’, describes Sweeny the state of the flow like a complete immersion in an activity. Think of it as being “in the zone”. During the flow state, time passes without you realizing it and your mind calms down. Trying to get a flow is probably the reason so many of us have adopted baking bread at the start of quarantine
Almost any activity that requires active engagement can become a flow activity. “The best types of activities for this challenge you a little bit, but not too much. So you are not frustrated, but you are not bored either, and you can see that you are progressing towards a goal that you are making. You’re fixed, “Sweeny says. Almost anything can be turned into a flow activity that fits those metrics, whether it’s cleaning, babysitting or my quarantine favorite, playing video games.
“Video games are great for flow,” Sweeny said. “It’s tough, and it gets harder and harder as you get better. You achieve concrete goals. “
Be kind to yourself
At this point, waiting for the vaccine seems like a simple thing. But it’s not. Waiting without any control over the result is zero.