How to Deal With Uncertainty - 7 Tips for Coping with Our World Right Now
If you feel more anxious, exhausted, or numb these days, you are not alone. All the current events, the pandemic, and the loss of our familiar lives of 2019 contribute to most of us feeling sad, angry, worried, and powerless.
You might have heard of languishing, which is the opposite of flourishing. Languishing is all those feelings of numbness, tiredness, and lack of motivation.
No matter how numb or helpless you may feel, there are coping mechanisms to better deal with the negative feelings that most of us are going through.
Taking care of your mental health and focusing on things that bring you joy won’t make the large-scale issues disappear, but it can make you feel better. Self-care also doesn’t mean that you ignore your negative feelings. Instead, you can process your negative emotions in healthy ways and move towards a more positive mindset.
Here are 7 tips that you can try out:
1. Focus on what you can control
No matter what situation you are in, usually, there are still some things you can control. It might be helpful to pause and write down a list of things that you can do.
For example, if you are concerned about getting COVID-19, you can wear a mask and do your best to avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces such as elevators to prevent catching the virus.
When you focus on things that you can do, you are actively problem-solving instead of aimlessly worrying and feel more in control.
2. Be present
When you focus fully on the present, you don’t worry as much. Don’t try to predict what may happen, and don’t let yourself think of everything that could go wrong. Instead, connect to and appreciate the present moment. What do you see and hear around you?
You can learn to focus on the present moment by practicing mindfulness.
If you feel especially anxious, you can try this grounding technique to get back to the present situation. Take a few deep breaths and say out loud:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel (your feet against the floor etc.)
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste (you can leave your spot to find something to savour)
3. Take care of your well-being
You can better deal with what life throws at you when you take care of your mental and physical well-being. This includes:
- Exercise - try to move a little bit every day.
- Get enough sleep.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Do your best to avoid sugary and processed foods.
- Spend time outdoors.
- Do activities you enjoy and help you relax.
Self-care helps to reduce stress, frustration, anger, and anxiety. You can use our self-care planner to map out activities that improve your well-being.
4. Eliminate your triggers
Do you know what your triggers are? Are you able to avoid or reduce those triggers so that you can worry less?
For example, you may feel better and more optimistic if you limit your time on social media.
5. Reflect on your need for certainty
We can never control absolutely everything. Unexpected events and constant change are a part of life. No matter how much we plan and prepare, in reality, anything could happen.
The pandemic has changed a lot in our lives. Some things will probably never go back to the way they were, and it’s okay to feel sad about it. Dealing with change can be tough, even when it’s a positive change for the better.
Some of us may avoid or fight against inevitable changes that we have no control over. To cope with the change, try to reframe your thinking and see the positives.
Unexpected turns in life aren’t always a bad thing. Good things can happen out of the blue, too. Have you ever met a new friend or a partner unexpectedly? Have you stumbled upon a fun, memorable experience when you least expected it?
You can answer these questions to challenge your need for certainty and reflect on the coping mechanisms that you already use.
- What are some positive changes that have happened?
- What are some good things about uncertainty?
- In the past, did things turn out fine even though you were not certain about what would happen or had to do things differently?
- What did you do to cope if things did not turn out okay?
- Can you use those coping strategies again?
6. Learn to tolerate change and uncertainty
If you feel ready, you can try to build your tolerance for change and uncertainty slowly. Start with something that gives you just a little bit of anxiety.
For example, you always bring a thorough list when grocery shopping. If the thought of going without a list makes you just a little bit uneasy, you can challenge yourself to go shopping without a list.
Afterwards, reflect on your experience.
- How did you feel?
- What happened? Did everything turn out fine?
- What did you do if things didn’t go as you expected?
When you keep practicing, you may, in time, notice that things that once caused you anxiety have become much easier to handle, and your tolerance for the unexpected has grown.
7. Do not hesitate to seek professional help
We all feel down or anxious from time to time – especially now. If these are more than just passing feelings for you, our mental health therapists can help to identify coping mechanisms for you.
Counselling can feel like a big step to take, but please know that thousands of people see a therapist each year at The Family Centre alone. It’s okay to feel nervous at your first session. Counselling can be a great way to help you think more clearly and work through a solution when you feel stuck.
You may also be interested in these blog posts:
12 Tips For Resilience During a Pandemic
Blog posts about mental health