How to Deal with Uncertainty

Unfortunately, uncertainty is part of life. There are so many things we can’t control. So what can do you to try to cope with the stress? Here are a few tips to help you with this.

1. Be understanding of your feelings. Being anxious and afraid is natural when you are dealing with something you have little or no control over. This is especially true if this is something that really matters to you, or where negative outcomes could have serious consequences for you, or someone else. Why wouldn’t you worry under those circumstances? Anyone would! Your reaction is normal – even healthy.

2. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up for feeling anxious and worried, or being intolerant of the way you feel, is not going to help the situation a all. This is a time to be there for yourself. Sometimes it can help if we say things like “It’s really, really hard when you just have to be patient and wait. In fact, it can feel unbearable at times.”

3. Try not to dwell on things you can’t control. When something really concerns you, it is natural for your thoughts to keep drifting off in that direction. We keep thinking about the “what ifs”. We keep turning over worst-case scenarios in our minds. In some ways this can be good – as there are times when this process actually does alert us to things we need to do, or could do, in order to avert a possible disaster. However, more commonly we find our thinking goes round and round in circles, and escalates our feelings of anxiety.

4. Actively take control of the things you can control. This can help combat your feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness. Perhaps you can plan ahead, and make sure you are top of your other responsibilities. Perhaps you can do some research. Perhaps you can make contingency plans.

5. Seek out support. This can mean searching out people who can give informed and meaningful advice; or it can mean talking to a friend or family member who is always there for you. “A burden shared can be a burden halved.” Don’t withdraw and isolate yourself.    

5. Limit your exposure to other forms of negative information – such as the news. For now, you are bearing as much as you can bear. You don’t have the reserves to deal with other things as well. Yes, you may need to know what is happening in the world. But be disciplined in how frequently you check the news, your email, or social media accounts. It’s especially important to avoid these things at more vulnerable times – like just before you go to bed.

6. Invest is self-care. This is something you’ll have heard many times before. However, when you’re really under stress, this is an absolute must. Meaningful self-care can take the form of meditation, yoga, spending time with your pets, going outside, getting exercise, playing with your kids, reading, and so on. Do whatever works for you!