3 Coping Mechanisms For Facing Uncertainty

Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash

You may be entering another lockdown, currently in one, finally freed from one or waiting to have one put in place… Regardless of where you are in the world, the current health emergency is naturally taking its’ toll on all of us. The uncertainty of what’s to come next and how to return back to “normal life” is sometimes overwhelming. Watching films and TV series filmed pre COVID-19 has also altered, leaving us cringing and questioning how hundreds of strangers can be crowded in a nightclub with no social distancing measures in place. Although, in that respect, our need for escapism has surged.

Throughout our lives we will all face copious amounts of uncertainty, for some this is a thriving point, and for others the unknown can cause a great deal of stress. And not being in control can be a trigger of anxiety and more. But there are many coping mechanisms and tools we can collate to prevent overwhelming feelings from arising.

  1. Accept the situation, control what you can

Control is what keeps many feeling productive, organised and like they’ve got their “shit together”. Acceptance, on the other hand, is what helps free any anxious thoughts circling around in my mind. An example of this could be that you have an essay due in the next day that you haven’t prepared for or begun writing. There’s nothing you can do to change the deadline, the only option is to accept the reality but acknowledge that you still have control over increasing your chances of reaching that deadline by using the time you have until that point to do what you can.

This attitude can be applied to almost any situation in which you find yourself in – you may not have control over an outcome, but you will always have control over what you do, say, and act. When unpleasant feelings and thoughts arise, let them float by like trains passing through a train station – you decide whether to hop on board or not.

2. Try to be fluid in your approach to the unknown

Just like stepping out of your comfort zone, being open to the unknown changes uncertainty can bring about can be scary. Naturally stressful situations can cause us to tense up, almost like a cat with its’ back arched in defence, and we can soon become physically exhausted. The more open we are to change, to adapting with the flow and taking each day as it comes, the more resilient we can become to uncertain situations.

Practising this in every day life can be done through going ahead with last-minute plans if you tend to stick to a strict schedule or finding the silver lining when things go wrong, such as facing failure. The more you open yourself to adapting when things don’t go to plan, the better your resilience will grow to be.

3. For once, tend to your needs without judgement

Navigating uncertainty or stressful periods in life can leave us feeling fed up and lacking the motivation to carry on. Too often we are our own worst enemy, taking a stubborn “get up and get on with it” approach can only mean avoiding our thoughts, feelings and the situation itself. Simply put, this approach can only prove harmful for us in the long run because how we feel is inescapable, it can’t be avoided forever, nor is it healthy for us to avoid what we are facing.

Some days you may find yourself crying from laughing so hard and other times you may cry tears of absolute despair. Though up and down, this rollercoaster of emotions is what carries us through. It is part of processing and adapting to changing situations. There are preferable emotions such as happiness, joy and tensions that are relieved through laughter, but other emotions such as sadness and anger aren’t bad for us, they’re what keep us balanced. Take each day as it comes, and if getting out of bed is your biggest achievement on one day, praise yourself for it. Life can be hard enough for us to process without throwing in hate from ourselves into the mix.

Ciao for now x

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