Plans cancelled again? Here's how feel calmer about not being in control

Expert advice for what to do when you don't know what to do

Person's hand on a calendar
(Image credit: Photo by STIL on Unsplash)

One of the defining characteristics of the past 15 or so months has been that of uncertainty. The constantly shifting rules and guidelines surrounding the pandemic means that any plan can be cancelled at the last minute, whether that's just your everyday schedule being upset by a ping from the Track and Trace app, or a holiday booked in advance, or even a wedding you've been planning for months.

As a result, it can be difficult to feel in control of your life. And for many of us, that's not a nice feeling. T3 spoke to Michael James Wong, a world renowned meditation and yoga teacher, TEDX Speaker and wellness advocate, to hear his advice on the topic. "As humans we love to be in control, we like to know our schedule, we like to choose what we have for dinner; this is just part of life. But is it all that it's cracked up to be? Perhaps there is a different way to look at things," he says. 

"Now for most of us, the need for control comes from a place of safety and security. We have a deep desire to know that we are safe and that we will not be without. But these days, sometimes too much control can simply be too much, and in moments of uncertainty or unplanned changes or outcomes, we can easily feel out of control." 

So what can you do to manage these feelings and find a better balance in these uncertain times? Here are three tips for what to do when you don't know what to do.

1. Consider the worst

"It can sound dire, but in these moments, ask yourself what is actually the worst possible outcome," suggests Michael. If everything does go wrong, will it really be that bad? "If it's not life threatening or world ending, then perhaps we can refrain the amount of fear or unrest in these moments."

2. See uncertainty as a gift

You might not know what's going to happen next, but that also means that the future is full of possibilities. "Often in these moments when plans go out the window or things change out of your control, these serendipitous moments can open the door for something new, different and/or exciting," says Michael. 

3. Remember that nothing is really in our control 

If all else fails, remember that control is all an illusion anyway. "You may think you can control things, but really you can't," says Michael. "So give yourself a break and remember you're just doing the best you can. Remembering this can often help us ease the burden of needing to be in control."

Michael James Wong is the founder Just Breathe app.

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).