How to Feel More in Control in A Scary Time

Jenna Kutcher 

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April 10, 2020


These past few weeks have felt like a year crammed into just days, and things are continuing to escalate and feel more out of our hands than ever. If you’re like me, you’ve experienced every emotion possible every day of the week in all this, and it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting off the roller coaster anytime soon. When so much is out of our control, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and frantic. I’ve even had my moments of panicky, worrisome spirals that ultimately result in coming back to this simple question: what CAN I control?

Let’s be real, there’s not a whole lot in the external world that we’re able to change right now. So it’s my belief that now is the time to focus more inward, to look at areas in our lives, mental health, communities, families, and businesses that could use a little more care and love. Give those things some attention right now, because really, that’s all we have power over at this current point in time.

5 ways to feel more in control when life gets hard

Something that’s been giving me comfort is that even though this current circumstance is brand new to all of us, life is cyclical. When things go down, they must come back up, and so while this time is scary and unpredictable, one thing we CAN predict is that it will all end… Things will bounce back. And until then, here’s how you can get a handle on what’s in your realm of control.

01. Lists are your FRIEND.

When the world is cray, my mind reacts similarly and gets more jumbled and frazzled than ever. Creating lists has become a therapy of sorts because I can dump everything that’s rattling around in my mind into one place that I can then begin working through whenever it feels right. And I mean everything — we aren’t just talking to-do lists here (though that’s a great place to start).

Make a list of house projects, of things you need to grab on your next grocery run, of topics you’d like to learn more about. Make lists of gratitude, of books you want to read, of shows you want to watch, of places you want to visit. Write a list for what you want to get done this week, what you want to celebrate in the coming year, what you want to improve in your business in the next 3 months.

You know when you’re lying awake at night just thinking or worrying about things, hoping you don’t forget to do this or that? Write it down! I promise it will alleviate so much of the spinning thought-circles that we all encounter and will help you keep track of all the things, without them stressing you the heck out all the time.

02. Rest is a NONNEGOTIABLE.

Hear me well: you need sleep. You need breaks. You need to take deep, lung and gut-filling breaths. LIKE A LOT. All day, friend. Pause, reflect, stretch, nap, stand up from your desk, roll out your neck, sit in the sun if you can. Stress is funny because it takes this toll on our sleep and makes our hearts beat a little faster, making rest seem impossible, right? Yet real, nourishing rest is one of the best things you can do to alleviate stress and bring more calm to your world.

So even though it won’t feel natural, even though it MAY stress you out more at first, begin prioritizing rest in any way you can. Get 8 hours of sleep at night. Protect your sleep hygiene by not looking at screens an hour before bed, drinking chamomile or lavender decaf tea at night, dimming your lights in your room, and going to bed/waking up at the same time each day.

03. Boundaries are GOOD.

Right now, especially, and with things that might seem silly to create boundaries around, i.e. the news. While everything seems urgent on the news, checking in once a day, or even every other day, is plenty to get the latest information and updates. Streaming it in the background as you go about your day or checking Twitter every hour will only create more of a sense of dread curled up inside you. How do I know? Well, just trust me on this one. 😉

Boundaries are also good for: relationships by letting others know how and when they can reach you, work by setting specific start and stop times, and your health by creating habits that are sustainable, cyclical, and feel good. We can’t control external things or other people, but we can still control how we react to things and how we choose to protect our energy. If you don’t like something happening in your immediate life or circle, check if there’s any way you could create a healthy boundary for it.

04. Do ONE thing a day to progress.

There are certainly camps of people out there shouting to DO ALL THE THINGS and ACHIEVE ALL THE GOALS right now. But you don’t have to use this time to fix your life and make all your dreams come true. In fact, who has the mental capacity or time, truly? What you CAN do is to focus on doing one thing a day to move forward with a goal. It could be a personal goal or professional. It could be something for your family or your finances. It can be something super small or really important.

Whatever it is, do something each day to progress with that goal. Now, that one thing might mean spending 5 minutes to read a book about whatever your goal has to do with, or it might mean spending 4 hours creating an intensive plan. It doesn’t have to be grandiose every day, and in fact it will probably be small, imperfect steps most days. And that is enough. Messy action is always better than no action.

05. HELP others in any way you can.

We can’t fix the world’s problems but we can do little things to help one another right now. Even just keeping in touch with loved ones who might be more isolated than others is a way to help and lift someone else up. You can also support small businesses by ordering products/services online, buying gift cards, writing positive online reviews, or featuring them on your social media channels, blog, or newsletter. Reach out to other entrepreneurs you know to see how they’re doing and if you can support them in any way.

Something about giving what you can to those who need it — whether you’re giving monetarily or with your time — can bring a lot of healing and brightness to your day, as well as uplift your community. How can you give back in some way each day? Find the opportunities and then fill them with light.

With a little bit of introspection and lots of letting go of what doesn’t serve you or fall in your circle of power, you’ll begin tapping into the things you truly have power over. Your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and mindset are where you can flourish right now, so focus there and everything else will sort itself out in due time. Thinking of you, always!

Want more help focusing on what you can control?

Download my free planner with a daily gratitude practice, outline for growth, and space to dream.

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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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