The old saying goes, “When you make a plan, God laughs.”

And while not all of us believe in a higher power, there’s no doubt life can be wildly unpredictable.

Indeed, if these past two years have taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s around the corner. During the pandemic, we got used to government restrictions and more recently we’ve faced global political instability. It has forced us to relinquish control – causing mass anxiety.

Now more than ever it might be time to let go of our “demand for certainty” to some extent. But staying in the driving seat as we navigate some of life’s hairy moments can help us feel less lost and overwhelmed. We have some tips to ensure a smoother journey…

Problem: The world news is worrying you

Solution: Limit your exposure

The terrifying crisis of Russia invading Ukraine brings another wave of fear, uncertainty, anxiety and stress. Facing the unknown heightens our anxiety, as we invariably catastrophise about worst-case scenarios.

The more you exercise a muscle, the bigger and more pronounced it becomes – and the same applies for your anxieties. Long-term exposure to stressors usually worsens anxiety. You may be interested in world events but listening to the news on repeat will intensify your anxiety, so limit listening to the news and scrolling through social media. One of our favourite sayings is, “Don’t believe everything you think”. External influences such as films, news and even our imagination can lead us to catastrophising.

Remind yourself that your thoughts are not always representative of reality and fight negative thoughts with positive facts, such as gratitude for the strongest display of unity in the Western world that we have ever seen right now and, of course, NATO, coupling this with the primary objective of world peace.

Finally, try the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique. Take a moment, concentrate on breathing and consider five things you can see, four you can touch, three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste.”

Problem: Your feel your friends are moving on and leaving you behind

Solution: Focus on yourself

Make a decision to live your own life for you, and not for your friends. Create your own goals, make your own plans, and don’t be immersed in someone else’s.

If you envy a friend’s life, then see this as a positive, as this will motivate you to start taking actions to create your own path. If your friends are getting married and you feel like the only single person left, join a dating site or start telling your friends you’re looking to meet someone, so they might be able to introduce you to suitable friends of theirs.

If you’re in a relationship but your other half isn’t committing, then take action and ask them outright what their plans are for your future.

If you don’t plan your life, you’ll become a part of someone else’s. You deserve to be happy.

Problem: You’re being bad mouthed and it’s not true

Solution: Create space between you and them

Negative and toxic people will pollute your world, so distance yourself from them.

Take the fact you are occupying their thoughts and conversations as a great compliment. If you were bland and boring, they wouldn’t even see you!

Block them on social media and reduce any time you have to spend with them. Pity them, too, as their actions highlight how little they have going on in their own lives.

If anyone tries to tell you someone has been calling you names, thank them for their loyalty but assure them you don’t care what anyone thinks of you, as you like yourself enough for everyone.

Problem: You’re having a terrible day

Solution: Schedule time to reassess

Give yourself a window of time, later in the day, to address the issue bothering you. When that time comes around, sit down and think about everything that’s gone wrong and what you’re worried about. Maybe even feel sorry for yourself.

Then, 15 minutes later, end the moping and continue your day. You’re acknowledging your feelings, embracing them and moving on so that you can give the rest of the day the best version of yourself.

If you feel like you need it, schedule another 15 minutes for the next day – but don’t extend that time.

You can also try a physical activity, which will dispel negativity and stress. Even just putting on one of your favourite songs and dancing like mad or simply opening the door and taking a few deep breaths can work wonders.

Problem: You can’t control your spending habits

Solution: Pinpoint your motive

If you find yourself overspending, the first question to consider is your motive. Understanding why you overspend is the first step, so that you know the cause and can address it. For example, by going out with friends less, finding an alternative to pick-me up purchases – such as exercise – or creating new inexpensive habits.

Being grateful for what you have as opposed to what you don’t will help, as will writing down income and expenditure to let you see the actual surplus you have to spend each month. A great tip is to save 10% of your surplus and divide your remaining 90% into daily spends. Doing this makes you accountable.

Problem: You have to work with a colleague you dislike

Solution: Cheat a friendship

In most cases, you can’t change who your colleagues are, but you can change how you interact with them.

Listen to the things they say – do they talk about their children a lot, a particular TV show or a holiday destination? Build up a bank of information and try to find some commonality. You can cheat a friendship and make your working day more pleasant by aiming to boost your interest levels in what they love.

If you don’t like the way they talk to you, try not to challenge them. Instead, say, ‘I know you would never mean to but what you said hurt my feelings.’ Show them some kindness. A lot of people go to work to have money in order to have a good quality of life – if a colleague is a little challenging, that doesn’t mean you’ll get paid less. Take comfort in that!

For more helpful hints and tips to make everyday life all the less troublesome, how about you take a listen to some of the episodes in our podcast, ‘Making The Change’?