Combating The Ill Effects of Uncertainty

Individual Counseling Insights brought to you by California Psychotherapeutic Resources, Inc.

Feeling a bit of déjà vu as we enter 2022? Didn’t we kick off 2021 the same way, with high hopes that the pandemic was rapidly receding? Now — having thoroughly absorbed the new language of the pandemic —we find ourselves watching case rates for Omicron rising fast and wondering if there’s another new variant right around the corner.

A pensive woman

Coping with the uncertainty involved with the pandemic can be just as stressful as dealing with the actual virus. That’s just human nature. Uncertainty is a sign of lack of control, and everyone to a certain extent — some more than others — finds comfort in controlling what happens to them. Confronting a lack of control can lead to heightened stress and anxiety. The point is brought home in an article on the American Psychological Association’s website that cites results from the APA’s latest Stress in America survey: “More than three in five (63%) agreed that uncertainty about what the next few months will be causes them stress, and around half (49%) said that the coronavirus pandemic has made planning for their future feel impossible.”

Rather than just throw up your hands, though, and live with the anxiety, the APA offers tips for dealing with life’s uncertainties.

“Be kind to yourself.” If you see others dealing with the uncertainty better than you are, you may be inclined to be hard on yourself. Don’t — everyone’s different.

“Reflect on past successes.” C’mon, you’ve survived other stressful events. You’re stronger than you may think.

“Develop new skills.” Or fine tune skills you already have — it will increase your self-confidence.

“Limit exposure to news.” And add social media to that resolution while you’re at it.

“Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control.” It’s easy to say, but try to retain an optimistic attitude about the future.

“Take your own advice.” What would you say to a friend who confided in you about their uncertainty? Now, try saying that to yourself.

“Engage in self-care.” Don’t let down on your healthy habits — keep exercising, eating right, meditating or practicing yoga.

“Seek support from those you trust.” Odds are you’ve comforted a friend in need. It’s okay to look for the favor in return.

“Control what you can.” Maintain your routines — they can be especially comforting in uncertain times.

“Ask for help.” If you try many of the steps above and are still filled with anxiety, it’s time to reach out to a professional.

Read the full APA article here.