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4 Psychological Strategies to Cope with Uncertainty

Uncertainty is never going to end.

Looking back to the first half of 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak has provoked a huge amount of fear and uncertainty in the world. Social distancing is an effective way of preventing the spread of virus. However, millions of individuals and businesses are still struggling, especially when the numbers of new cases have risen after multiple protests across different countries.

We have to adapt to the new normal at a faster speed than we are comfortable to do so. Fortunately, human beings are in fact better at adapting than we think we are. Take a look at History. We have adapted to life changes during and after civil wars and two world wars, diseases, natural disasters and economic recessions. We are adaptive creatures. That has always been the case.

Typically, there are two sides of everything. You get to be the judge of how good or bad the pandemic is for you. You get to change your verdict at any given time in your mind. Things are often changing, ambiguous and impermanent.

That is the nature of life.

All things considered, the solution to the current struggles seems to be getting the right balance and allowing different degrees of balance to co-exist. So how can we find this state of equilibrium, especially in the midst of chaos and uncertainty that the world is experiencing?

A few suggestions.

1. Allow yourself to sit with the uncertainty knowing that uncertainty is a “given” in life.

Uncertainty and anxiety are not to be rid of, they are there to live with. Allow yourself to sit with the feeling of uncertainty for at least a few minutes a day without distraction, suppression, or running away. It is recommended that you observe how your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations change over the duration of this practice.

Any intense feeling in nature and by nature will not last long. Once the feeling peaks, it will eventually return to the baseline or what we deem “normal”. Spikes and slumps are not sustainable, just bear that in mind.

2. Learn what you can and cannot control.

Examples of what you can control are your attitude, habits, actions, and reactions. What you cannot control is your government’s policies, unless you are the governors (in which case please do a decent job and do it quickly). Other people’s attitudes, habits, actions, and reactions are also outside of your control.

You see, lots of things are outside of your control, so let go of your worries about these things and put your focus on what you do have control of.

3. Practice being grateful for life’s mystery, whether it’s pleasant or not.

Indeed, it is easy to be thankful for the good parts in life and be bitter about the ugly parts. It would help to quit thinking in polarities. Move away from the concepts of good/bad, right/wrong, and so on. Accept that life is just full of different things.

In these strange times, now is the opportunity for you to sharpen your skills, to be resilient, flexible and adaptable. These are valuable skills that will save you in the long run. You don’t have to like or enjoy uncertainty to develop personal growth. But it doesn’t serve you to be bitter and wallow in self-pity. Be grateful for what you can be grateful about and keep learning.

4. Get a sense of what soothes you, sparks joy in you, and helps you stayed connected with other people.

And just do it!

During self-isolation, it is normal to feel bored and lonely. Don’t just try to distract yourself with TV shows, video games, or even worse self-medication. Balance play with working-on-yourself, balance distractions with purpose, and replace the feeling of isolation with quality time with your loved ones.

It is true that we need to maintain good self-care and humanly connections more than ever before.

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