Dealing with Uncertainty: Learning to Cope with What’s Happening in the World

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Uncertainty isn’t new to many of us. In fact, we’re conditioned throughout our lives to deal with some level of uncertainty as we learn, grow, and adapt. However, uncertainty seems to be all around us, more so than ever before. With the current pandemic changing our daily lives, uncertainty can be found in our work situations, home life, relationships, and mental and physical health. Of course, fearing the unknown may be acceptable at this time, but it doesn’t make the situation of uncertainty any less difficult to navigate. From wondering about the “what-ifs” to seeking out a new normal, everyone deals with uncertainty in a different way. How will you learn to cope with what’s happening in your world today?

While some people seem to thrive in unpredictability, for others, uncertainty can bring about frustration, anxiety, and depression. If you’re overwhelmed by the prospect of major uncertainty, first know that you’re not alone. No matter how helpless you may currently feel, there are ways to take control of your fears of the unknown and find a balance between preparing yourself for the unexpected and chronically worrying about the future. 

The first step is to acknowledge that learning to cope with uncertainty takes time. Simply telling yourself not to worry isn’t the most helpful tactic, and neither is overly worrying about every situation and possible outcome. Remember that, although we may hate to admit it, uncertainty and the anxieties that come with it are a natural part of life. In fact, uncertainty is inevitable. You’re bound to feel it’s weight throughout your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it keep you from moving forward. When learning to cope with anxiety, you should begin by adjusting your mindset.

  • Instead of panicking about what you can’t control, focus on the things that are under your control.

  • Challenge yourself by challenging your learned behaviors when uncertainty is at the forefront of your mind.

  • As you work through your anxieties, find the strength to accept, tolerate, and potentially even embrace unavoidable uncertainty within your life.

Focus On What You Can Control

There’s no problem with wanting to take control of your life, but there is a clear difference between taking control of situations that are actionable and trying to control situations that you can’t truly affect. During this pandemic, there are many things that are out of your control, but while you may not be able to create a cure for a virus or single-handledly repair the economy, you’re not without your own power. Although your personal fears for your health and livelihood are justified, you should refocus your efforts to control the areas of your life that you can change for the better every day. Refocus control by taking action whenever possible. If you’re concerned about your health, take action by wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently, and staying home whenever possible. If you’re worried about friends, family, and neighbors, check-in regularly to see that everyone else is taking the same precautions.

Of course, taking physical actions is just one important step to changing your mindset and refocusing your energy. You should also work to actively take control of your emotional wellbeing as well. When things get overwhelming, negative emotions can keep you from coping with the situations around you. But you should never bottle up those feelings of depression and anxiety thinking you can wish them away. Internalizing your negative emotions can be detrimental to physical and emotional wellbeing, even causing relapse in those struggling with recovery in isolation. 

Accept Uncertainty but Take Precautions

You can’t eliminate stressors and doubt from your life completely, nor should you want to! Embracing uncertainty may seem impossible right now, but with hard work, you can learn to cope with change and doubt. Remember to take the time to focus on the present, take action whenever possible, and make practical choices within your life to alleviate your stress. It’s good to remind yourself of just how much you already accept uncertain moments. From crossing the street to starting a new career, we’re always taking some small amount of risk in our lives. This is your chance to accept insignificant and significant amounts of uncertainty, but to take precautions whenever possible. Whether it’s getting insurance to cover you and your loved ones if you lose a job or changing your estate plans in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, take action now to save yourself stress later.


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