How can we deal with uncertainty?
As we’ve already seen, 2021 really isn’t going to be any more certain than 2020 and for most people, uncertainty can cause a tremendous amount of anxiety.
Why do we feel this way? Our brains are constantly making decisions about what’s safe and what isn’t, so when faced with a situation that is uncertain, it considers it as dangerous. If your brain can’t see a sure way to keep you from harm, it will always assume the worst. Your brain will do almost anything for the sake of certainty. And just to add to it, your primal instincts overestimate threats and underestimate your ability to handle them, to safeguard your survival.
The good news is, there are ways to overcome these emotions and keep your stress levels flatline.
Step 1 – It is important to recognise when you have anxious thoughts and behaviours. Our subconscious behaviour when experiencing anxiety varies between people, but it is common to be irritable, short tempered, have heightened emotions, experience headaches and/or stomach aches.
Step 2 – Don’t ignore these signs of anxiousness. Once you’ve acknowledged your emotions, allow yourself to question what exactly is causing these feelings. It is potentially damaging to ignore your thoughts as it can lead to unhealthy behaviours, which magnify them further.
Step 3 – Take back control. The driving force of this anxiety is lack of control. If you focus on the things within your control, like routine, you may start feeling somewhat in command again. Having predictable rhythms in your day is usually reassuring and has a calming effect.
Step 4 – Avoid dwelling on the things you can’t control. Worrying is our subconscious trying to prevent unpleasant surprises and control outcomes. But constantly thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable, it just keeps you from enjoying being in the moment.
Step 5 – Find healthy ways to comfort yourself. Go for a hike with a friend, schedule a call with someone you miss or watch things that will make you laugh on YouTube – even in an unpredictable world, you can always find joy. They may seem small, but when your world feels out of control, knowing what meaning we have for others and feeling a sense of purpose can centre us better than anything else. Meaning and purpose are sources of grounding.
The mind is a powerful tool. Our thoughts are seeds, and know that we can choose which seeds we nurture and give life to – so grow the ones that have a positive effect and leave behind the ones that will only bring you negativity.