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Coping with uncertainty during COVID-19 (September 2020)

When we’re faced with uncertainty, especially if we have little control over the situation, it can often make us feel anxious, stressed or powerless, which can hugely affect our mental health.

Even if you’re someone that can tolerate quite a lot of uncertainty, there will still be a limit to what you are comfortable with. No response is wrong, human beings are hard-wired to want security and safety – it’s what keeps us alive.

Here are some ideas on how to cope with uncertainty and the unknown during COVID-19. If you have any other suggestions, please do send them to us at contactus@health-in-mind.org.uk.

Notice your energy and work with it
Sometimes the anxiety of not knowing what will happen can drain all your energy. As you get up each day, take a few moments to notice how you are feeling in your mind and body. Give this a descriptive word and then set an intention for how you will manage it for the rest of that day. Write it down and put it somewhere where you’ll keep seeing it.

  • ‘When I feel really tired, I’ll take the time I need to go outside for some fresh air.’
  • ‘When I feel irritable, I’ll write down what is making me feel that way and come up with two things to change the situation.’

Take small steps over the things you can control
Even if it feels like life is on hold or spiralling out of control, there are still things you can influence. Think of what is affecting you at the moment. Write down two lists - what you can and can’t control. For the list of things that you can control, create some small actions to take.

  • ‘I can’t influence my redundancy, but I can get in touch with an employability advisor.
  • ‘I can’t change where I live just now, but I can make it feel nicer to be here.’

Reframe the situation
Once the initial panic or shock has subsided, it can help to think differently about the situation you’re in.

  • What might the opportunities be?
  • What would you say to a friend in this situation?
  • Are there any small wins you can make happen?
  • What have you learnt from past situations – is there anything you could try now?

Ask for help
You aren’t alone in the way you feel. Counselling, mindfulness and meditation, exercise, sleep and eating well are all things that can support your mental health. 

The first step is to ask for help, whether it’s us, a GP or someone you know.

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