One of the hardest parts of life is dealing with uncertainty. As human beings, we like, and even crave, information about our futures to make the unknown, known. The ambiguity of the unknown can feel threatening, and we can find ourselves doing whatever is necessary to create certainty.
But most times, it’s more effective not to create certainty. We can never really know what the unknown future will bring, or other improbable situations that can massively disrupt our routines and plans. The only certainty we have is uncertainty, so instead of trying to create certainty, we can find different strategies to help us better cope with it.
For many of us, our first instinct to combat uncertainty is to resist it. However, resisting the current reality won’t help us recover, learn, grow, or feel better with the uncertain and new reality we’re facing. Instead, resistance prolongs our pain and difficulty by amplifying the emotions we’re feeling. Even if your instinct is to resist uncertain instances, try acceptance. Accepting the current uncertainty allows us to see the reality of the situation in the present moment. Acceptance frees us up to move forward instead of being paralyzed by fear. In order to practice acceptance, we must let go of our resistance and our emotions that we associate with our resistance.
Invest in Yourself
One tried and true way to cope during times of uncertainty is to invest in yourself. The best resource we all have to make contributions to our uncertain world is ourselves, and uncertain times present opportunities to invest in self-care and personal growth. We operate at our best when we’re well taken care of, so embracing self-care is important during uncertain times such as getting enough sleep, fostering meaningful connections with others, to spending time on our hobbies that bring us joy. Investing time to take care of ourselves is time well spent to not only help cope with uncertainty but grow beyond it.
Find Healthy Comfort Items
If we want to stay flexible and open during uncertain times, we need to feel safe and secure. Consider what items (tangible and intangible) that make you feel safe and secure. While turning to junk food and doom-scrolling might feel safe when you reach for those items, try to think of other healthier activities and habits you enjoy and that give you just as much comfort. Can you schedule a call with a friend? Reflect on what you’re grateful for? Read a favourite book while swaddled in a woven towel? These comforts may seem small, but they can make a big difference.
Don’t Believe Everything You Think
During stressful and uncertain times, it’s easier to start believing everything you think, right down to your worst-case doom scenario. In these moments of panic, it’s important to remember that our emotional anxieties are not realities. The best way we can reinforce this centering fact is to remind ourselves to not believe everything we think. Every thought that passes through our brains doesn’t always mean something, and you could even say most of our thoughts don’t have to mean anything. Our mental health is tested during uncertainty, and we can reduce and manage our stress when we don’t give more power and authority to our anxious thinking.
The opposite of uncertainty is presence. Uncertainty is the unknown, and the best way to counteract what we don’t know is to focus on what we do know: the present. Even when everything feels out of control, we can control what we’re paying attention to in the moment. We can focus on the breath. We can check in and ask ourselves how we’re feeling. We can notice the sounds and smells around us while on a walk. Focusing on the present keeps the external uncertainty from determining our inner certainty. When we remain present, we can better cultivate calm, open-minded, and non-reactive behaviour. Although we can’t control uncertainty, we can control how we react and manage it in the present moment.
Find Meaning in Chaos
During times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to find meaning and purpose. Meaning and purpose go hand in hand, so consider what kinds of work give you this sense of purpose and fulfillment, and lean into it during times of uncertainty. For many of us, motivation and meaning converge most consistently when the work we’re doing provides significance to other people. We’ll work harder, longer, and feel happier about the work we’re doing when someone else is benefiting from our efforts. Take some time to reflect on what gives you purpose and devote your time and energy towards that to make meaning.
The Certainty of Hope
Uncertainty is difficult for all of us to cope with, but with the right tools and strategies, it can be managed. Once we figure out the right tools and strategies for ourselves, we can not only cope with uncertainty, but thrive in it.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
Pomp and Sass’s woven towels are lightweight, absorbent, and get softer over time.