Who wouldn’t feel it right now? It’s coming from all around us. Living with COVID-19; these terrifying, out-of-control wildfires; protesting the systematization of white supremacy and calling for justice for all people; and an erratic Presidential election – all call us to live with uncertainty in unprecedented ways. Some days it feels to me like waves of anxiety accompanying constant news breaks and polarization are flowing at me from every screen I see – my TV, my phone, and my computer.

We have never really known the future, but pre-2020 we were more able to function as though we did! Many religious and many philosophical systems grapple with this. Agnosticism is based upon the acknowledgement of “not knowing” fully; Buddhism on a premise of the truth of the “impermanence” of our lives and possessions; Christianity on having faith, the hope of things yet unseen.

If you’re experiencing anxiety in the face of uncertainty – it’s real! So take time to grapple with how you are coping with “not knowing.” Go easy on yourself, and allow yourself some space. I invited The Chaplains and staff at the Fish Interfaith Center last week to share key practices that are keeping them grounded right now. I expected primarily to hear about meditation, prayer, walking, connecting with loved ones, or disengaging with news when one’s bandwidth for it is full. Yes, these were secondary, but here were the top two:

  1. Read the prophets and change-makers. Read about prophetic voices and activists and peacemakers throughout the ages – and pay attention to what they were up against. Gain strength for this time from their example. Reverend Dr. William Barber, Co-Director of the Poor People’s Campaign, reminded us in his live virtual talk to Chapman University, The Significance of Race in America, that “in moments of deepest pain is when people rebuild.” He ended his speech with a challenge to us:

Harriet Tubman didn’t have Twitter, she didn’t have Instagram, she didn’t have email, she didn’t have Zoom, she didn’t have Skype, she didn’t have a car, … and she and white Quakers and some white evangelicals of the 1800’s got 700 people out of slavery. There’s no way in the world we can let them do more with less and we not do more with more.

  1. Make a difference. If you are concerned about how the election or current laws or the COVID-19 crisis will affect a particular population, do what you can to help now. Whether volunteering in person, financially, or through Zoom or writing or texts or phone calls. Making a difference right now in someone’s life helps bring meaning to this time.

Uncertainty has always been present – but right now it’s just plain unavoidable. We will get through this.

Below are dozens more really helpful tips to deal with anxiety, strengthen your resilience, and be your better self, right now. During election week, Student Psychological Counseling Services will be holding additional virtual drop-in hours, and the Fish Interfaith Center will expand Listening Windows for you to chat with one of our staff. We will also hold a time to gather for those disappointed with the Presidential election the day after the election is called – watch our webpage. And here are great tips to both care for yourself and get involved:

Resources for Your Well Being and Election Engagement from Civic Engagement Initiatives

Ten Tips for Coping with “Election Anxiety” by Dr. Jay Kumar

Creating Your Calm-Stress management tools from Student Psychological Services