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Dealing with uncertainty

Posted on 02 October 2020


This time last year, no one could have predicted that we’d be in the grip of a global pandemic and living with sweeping restrictions on our daily activities. With restrictions possibly set to increase again, no one knows what’s around the corner.

This uncertainty generates fear and anxiety which can be very difficult to deal with. Mental health charity Mind reported back in June that lockdown had been ‘devastating’ for our mental wellbeing and warned that we could be facing a greater challenge down the line.

So here are some tips for maintaining good mental health even in turbulent times.

Past, present and future

Psychologically, we find it difficult to cope with ambiguity about the future. We are programmed to notice sources of risk or stress and to think about what’s happening next, for very good survival reasons that aren’t so helpful now. So, we have to focus on the here and now – and work on trying to adapt to this situation, not predicting changes to it.

It’s more productive to reserve your worry for things you can control. The most important thing you can do is follow government advice to reduce the risk of spreading the virus – wash your hands, wear a mask, follow social distancing rules etc.

Breaking news

Every day we wake up to another round of COVID-19 stories on the news, each often more worrying than the last. This can’t help but increase our anxiety as we imagine how this new information might affect us and our loved ones. It’s easy to get sucked into scrolling through your news feed reading endless bad news and feeling more and more worried.

While it’s good to stay informed, try to limit how much time you spend reading the news. A check in once or twice a day should be enough to keep you up to date without causing unnecessary stress.

Stay in touch

It’s more important than ever that we stay connected to the people we love. Even if you can’t meet face-to-face, you can always reach out to friends and family with a text, a phone call or video chat; or sending a handwritten card is a nice gesture that will bring a smile to someone’s day. 

It’s also worth checking in with your neighbours (socially distanced of course) to see how they’re getting on and if they need any help. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference and the act of helping out will improve your own mental wellbeing.

Get active outdoors

We need to make the most of the great outdoors, come rain or shine. Head out for a walk, run, or cycle and clear your head in the fresh air. Here’s three quick reasons why exercising outdoors is a good idea:

  • Exercising outdoors will expose you to natural sunlight, which is important for your mental health as we head into autumn and winter.
  • Regular exercise and fresh air will help you to fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.
  • You can use exercise as an opportunity to get out and explore more of your area, especially local green spaces.

Right now, the future feels more unpredictable than ever. When faced with uncertainty, our instinct is to try to exert control, which only leads to more stress. But the right mindset can help you react to unexpected events in a more helpful way - and maybe even see a silver lining.

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