Managing Uncertainty

At the moment are a lot of uncertainties about what may happen with the Corona virus. We all are encountering changes in our lives on a daily basis. Understandably, a lot of people have concerns and as the situation is changing rapidly it is hard to anticipate what may happen in the future.  Our brains don’t tend to cope well with uncertainty and often get caught up in a problem-solving loop. Trying to make the uncertain certain, often leading us to thinking through the worst-case scenarios. When we are in the middle of this it can feel very real and be hard to step back from it. 

I have listed some ideas below that might help you step back from anxious worries and predictions. 

Recognise– notice when you are getting caught up in worrying thoughts. Recognise this is very normal and try not to criticise or ‘beat yourself up’ for doing so.  

Breathe– when we get anxious we tend to get caught up in negative thinking which can make us feel panicky causing over breathing, which keeps our thoughts racing. Take a slow breath in and out. You don’t have to count, unless you find this helpful. You might find it helpful to use the breath app on your phone/watch. 

Take a moment– getting caught up in our thoughts takes us away from the present moment as we spend time living in the imagined future. Take a moment to bring yourself back to the present moment. Look at 5 things around you, touch 4 items, and listen for 3 things you can hear. Ask yourself what would be helpful to do next.

Limit your media use– sometimes watching the news or reading articles can increase anxiety. Particularly as now there are so many resources of information, with some more accurate than others. Check in with how you feel when you are scrolling social media or news sites and also monitor the amount of time you spend doing this. Perhaps consider limiting the time you do this to certain times of the day and certain reputable sites. 

Keep social– whilst we have been asked to minimise unnecessary social contacts it is important to maintain contact if possible. Keep in touch with friends/colleagues remotely through calls, FaceTime, messaging etc.  Speak to those you find helpful and reassuring.  If talking about the current situation is too stressful; it is okay to say you would rather speak about something else. 

Exercise– if you have a garden spend some time in it, or if able to go for a short walk outside. Take time to notice what is around you, the sounds that you hear and any smells. If it is not possible to go out of your home spend some time by the window, even open it, looking out at what you can see and hear outside. Try and keep as active as you can in the home. 

Hydrate– keep drinking water regularly and try and keep to your usual diet to help look after yourself. 

Remember– a lot of the things you are worrying about may not come true and in some cases may be very unlikely. Focus on one day at a time. 

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About Me

Dr. Lindsey Beedie is a chartered Clinical Psychologist who currently works in the specialist area of neuropsychology within the NHS in Aberdeen.