5 Ideas When Things Are Beyond Your Control

5 Ideas When Things Are Beyond Your Control


When everything feels up in the air, here’s how to keep worry from taking over.

“Cone of uncertainty.” This term was new to me this year. I thought it was a hurricane-watching phrase, but it apparently is borrowed from Agile, a type of project management. I don’t like being in this cone of uncertainty—for whatever reason. No one enjoys waiting to see if a hurricane is going to blow off their roof. No one is happy to have a mortgage in limbo, or being on pins and needles until medical tests arrive. We cannot control everything in life, and that’s where anxiety can take root.


While you’re feeling stranded by fate, assess what you can do. Maybe it’s something as simple and mindless as scrubbing out the tub, deleting old emails, or making a baked potato. Take some action—any action—to use up some of the nervous energy that is building up.

20-Second Hug

Grab your partner—or a willing friend—for a long hug. The contact releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, into the bloodstream, and lowers blood pressure, according to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. According to the research, the calming effect was greatest on women.

Shake It Off

Try TRE, Tension & Trauma Release Exercises. The system uses therapeutic muscle tremors as a way to reduce stress, focusing on the core, chest and legs. It’s the same theory as how a deer will tremble after being pursued by a mountain lion, then stop shaking and be fine—the muscles release the stress. You can find providers, videos and an app here.


The mantra Om Namah Shivaya dates back thousands of years in the Hindu tradition. It’s the perfect mantra to turn to in times of duress, bringing clarity and helping unburden the mental load, calling to mind the beginning of the universe and the divine that lies within us.


“Surrender is not weakness,” writes Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now. “Through surrender, you will be free internally of the situation. You may then find that the situation changes without any effort on your part.”

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