Living in Uncertain Times
It is no exaggeration that currently we are living in one of the most uncertain times of the 21st century. Many people are expressing that it is not the present situation that they are finding most distressing but this uncertainty around what is to come. This is not surprising. We seek comfort in our routines and value order in our lives whether we are aware of this or not. Even if you are the type of person who enjoys skydiving you would still want knowledge of the set procedure to be followed when you jump out of the plane. As a result of this, when we are faced with uncertainty, our thinking is affected. Our decision making and judgement can be altered. We can even feel more anxious and stressed than if we are certain of a negative outcome than uncertain if it will be positive or negative. To cope with this unpleasant feeling, we will likely turn to coping mechanisms to ease our sense of uncertainty.
Accepting the current situation instead of fighting against it- this is the first step to effective coping in uncertain situations.
Placing demands on governing bodies to regulate risks- thankfully our governments have issued clear guidelines to manage the risks of COVID-19 so we do not have to take on this responsibility ourselves.
Placing our trust in established institutions- We are more likely to place our trust in institutions when we feel risks are higher and these risks are openly communicated to us.
Seeking knowledge and information about the situation- Reading up around the necessary facts can ease our uncertainty to an extent but be careful to avoid information overload which will spike anxiety levels.
Engaging in distracting tasks- choosing to do something we enjoy can give us back our sense of autonomy and occupy our mind instead of dwelling on what may be to come.
Finding certainty in things we can control- waking up at the same time we usually would, planning our meals, sticking to an exercise routine, keeping our space clean and tidy can all create a sense of normality in our lives.
Focus on things that are in your surroundings in the present moment- rather than panicking about the future or what it may look like for you, ground yourself and recognize what your present reality looks like and if this is sufficient for you.
We all cope with uncertainty in slightly different ways. If you need help coping stay tuned to this blog series and perhaps join us in our upcoming online webinar.
Poortvliet, P. M., & Lokhorst, A. M. (2016). The key role of experiential uncertainty when dealing with risks: its relationships with demand for regulation and institutional trust. Risk Analysis, 36(8), 1615-1629.
Tversky A, Kahneman, D. Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science, 1974; 185:1124–1131.
van Asselt, M. B. A., & Vos, E. (2006). The precautionary principle and the uncertainty paradox. Journal of risk research, 9(4), 313-336.
Gertel-Kraybill, O. (2020 in print). Suzy and The Brain 1-2-3: What Happens in Suzy’s Brain During Trauma. Riverhouse ePress. PA, USA.