I was talking to a highly intelligent, busy and resourceful man the other day who has a job which involves responsibility for hundreds of people.

He looked and sounded exhausted; more than that, he seemed worn down with life’s uncertainties and the state of the world.

I felt really distressed for him, especially as he’s a thoroughly decent man.

The following day he messaged to say he was sorry for having been so negative but that he had been overtired.

However, the truth is that loads of us are having similar bleak and disturbing thoughts, and I don’t remember a time when more individuals were suffering from such an overwhelming sense of having no control over anything.

The various conflicts, and the composition of governments, in many countries are constantly on our minds.

On top of that, we’re keenly aware since Covid that life is less predictable than we’d once assumed, and that dreadful situations can arise out of nowhere.

This has left many folk with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness, plus a marked reluctance to plan very far ahead.   

I notice, for example, that though people with families get round to booking holidays because they have to sort them for periods when the kids are out of school, many older men and women do not.

This is a shame because the anticipation of time off can be a big boost for our mood. And getting away can give us a more balanced perspective.

But it’s common now to hear adults of our age saying: “I haven’t booked anything yet. I’ll just go with the flow”.  

Unfortunately, often when we think that way, months can pass while we drift along, making no arrangements for any highlights, and this can leave us feeling even more out of control.     

What can we do to change this state of affairs? Well, I think one way to feel better about our uncertain world is to try to gain control over the bits of it that we can.  

Because I knew I was going to write this today, I actually took stock of some of my own indecisiveness and did something positive.

Like many of us, I hated January this year. You’ll remember all too well that the weather was wet and dark, and the month felt the longest on record.  

Back then, I resolved I wouldn’t spend money on a summer holiday but instead would save it so I could go somewhere sunny next winter, and this morning I booked a walking holiday, in January, in the Canary Islands.

I got a good deal, which makes me suspect that few of us are planning that far ahead.  But now I’ve done it, I feel better.  

So doing something jolly for yourself can help but it’s only a small part of what we might focus upon.

Is there, perhaps, an aspect of your life which you know to be out of control?

Something you’re aware could make a difference to your health and well-being if you took charge of it.

For many, it would be their weight. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you just how many “ageing” illnesses are caused, or worsened, by carrying too many extra pounds.

Almost two- thirds of the UK population are overweight or obese. This is shocking, isn’t it?

I know one woman who for years has struggled with her size and her attitude to food because she’s someone who’s gone through life feeling hungry all the time.

Now, she’s signed up for treatment with one of the new weight-loss injections.

For many of us, this would feel like too drastic a step. But she is someone who’s been told bluntly that unless she loses at least four stone, she has little chance of living to see her family grow up.

This has made her take action to address her problem and I really hope it works.     

You, on the other hand, may have completely different concerns that keep you awake at night.

Recently, I’ve talked with many individuals who care passionately about the result of our upcoming election and who are donating time or money, or both, to a party they would like to win it.

We don’t get the chance very often to influence who governs us, but we do have some control over it currently, and many individuals are stepping up to that and engaging with it.   

I also know a couple who have joined an organisation promoting world peace.

They’re both deeply disquieted about the violence on our planet and feel that they are doing something about it by making this commitment.   

I’ve also observed that an increasing number of people are appalled at the lack of action by politicians on climate change and are joining appropriate action groups as a result.

Does any of this help? There will be cynics who say it doesn’t. But we all know that old saying: “bad things happen when good people do nothing”, and it certainly rings true in 2024 for many of us.

There are very many good men and women who are trying to make a difference – and to feel they are clawing back some control over their own lives and futures.

I applaud them.