10 tips for navigating uncertainty
10 tips for getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. By Kelly Terranova
From the age of 18, I have lived with the knowledge that a fatal, incurable disease would take my mum and watched as she began to disappear. For 13 of those years, I was 50% at risk of the same disease myself, something I only found the courage to take a genetic test for when I fell pregnant at 31. The coin flipped in my favour.
As I continue to navigate caring for my mum, who is now in the late stages of Huntington’s disease, I have found lessons, many in adversity. I have learned how to constantly adapt in order to manage the circumstances outside of my control alongside embracing an aliveness that supersedes the race for unwavering happiness.
Shaped by my own experiences, I feel passionate about supporting people in navigating life's inevitable challenges from a place of realism. Hope and action on one side of the coin and acceptance of the things outside of our control on the other. It’s the cornerstone of the brand I founded, The Bee’s Knees.
Here are my 10 tips for getting comfortable being uncomfortable.
1. Move your body
The Bee’s Knees approach looks at the whole self, movement being one of four brand cornerstones. Having inevitably experienced depression, anxiety and burnout at many stages of my life to date, I have found movement to be imperative to realistically managing it. If things are tough, try to commit to just five minutes. Stretch, listen to music, or the sounds outside your window. With my mum, who is now wheelchair bound and unable to move with cues, we will move her arms and legs gently each day to get the energy shifting around her body. Adapt, be resourceful and release that energy from inside your body.
One of the most important features of The Bee’s Knees journals is an awareness of our own phases. Like the moon, some days we can show up fully, some days we need to retreat; keep a piece of us back to restore. We are all just muddling through, both now and in life. You are whole in all of your phases. A ‘sky’s the limit’ approach is wonderful in theory, but the sky really can be your limit when you adjust what that means to you and learn to take a break.
3. Collect moments
This one is the main life force behind the brand…collecting moments that are ‘The Bee’s Knees’. Inspired by a pre-Google era, where human connection and simple things were enough. I grew up with many of these and, as I have navigated the last two decades looking after my mum as Huntington’s disease takes her, it is the little moments that may be small but remain oh so mighty in keeping my head above the water. These moments are what I call ‘spontaneous gratitude’. The type that interrupts the big stuff and have so much power behind them.
4. Know yourself
Defined as ‘life rays’ in the journals, The Bee’s Knees champions individuality, and getting to know yourself. The four cornerstones for this are how we thrive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. How this looks will differ in each person and be directly connected to a whole host of personal factors. Knowing what we love, and what brings us back to ourselves acts as a scaffold for when things are uncomfortable, unpredictable and help us in ‘survive’ rather than ‘thrive’ mode. Be wary of following what works for someone else. Take time to tune in to how you tick, from the activities that feed your soul right back to basics like whether you work best in the morning or the evening.
Scaffold your life rays in a way that feels good for you. Trust yourself.
More than ever right now we are missing the connection of friends, family and even the sense of a busy place filled with other people. I have found a great sense of comfort in familiar TV shows this year. Where Zoom calls have begun to fizzle away, I have taken to looking through old photos and sending them to friends and family. We have connected by talking about the great moments shared before and chatted and cried about what we will share soon. Crying is connecting; it doesn’t always have to be sunny side up in order to create connection. We are all in this together.
6. Set a loose routine
Create a very simple routine that doesn’t ask too much at the moment. I have found it’s important to have a good balance of compassion and discipline. I call it the realist approach. Too much compassion and you risk getting stuck. Too much discipline, you risk burnout. Building a loose routine that offers both allows us to exercise the power of emotional fluidity. The structure gives more reason to swing your legs out of the bed each morning. om mind
7. Pop the kettle on and take a breath
Or ‘Mindful 7’ as we call it at The Bee’s Knees. When I feel overwhelmed it’s a bit like when the bubbles start spitting out of an overfilled kettle as it reaches boiling point. This year…it’s a lot! Don’t invalidate that. One tiny step at a time is enough. Use the kettle as a visual for you ‘cooling down’. Focus on the feeling of air as you breathe in and out. The world won’t break because you stop for seven minutes a day to recalibrate.
8. Let go
Nobody is smashing lockdown, just like nobody smashes life. It’s all ordinary, mundane, tragic, magical and messy and that’s how it is for everyone. Take your foot off your neck and learn to let go when it doesn’t go to plan.
9. Send and receive love
The past year has shifted how we see our purpose, with uncertain futures and plans difficult to make and see through. Turning part of our purpose to sending love, helping others in need, can give a new sense of purpose that ‘fits the bill’. It feels relevant to the place we are at right now. Likewise, know that people love you, let them love you. There is great strength in vulnerability. Document these moments in a journal, and embrace love when life feels uncertain.
10. Fresh air
The simplest but most underestimated power of nature. Notice how the seasons have continued to move during the last 12 months of uncertainty. I have had days where a walk is too much, the load is too heavy so opening a window is my reminder that we are still moving forward. Seasons continue to change and we are not stuck. “This too shall pass”.
Lastly, please don’t berate yourself if you are struggling right now. It is uncomfortable, because it is. There is a reason for things feeling the way they do. I believe it to be pretty liberating to accept that, and to focus on the things we can control. I believe in not chasing happiness but pursuing ‘aliveness’. This encompasses every feeling and emotion, in all its glory. The messy bits have magic too.