7 ways to manage uncertainty and reduce stress
Uncertainty is all around us, whether it is finances, family, employment, relationships or our mental and physical health. Uncertainty is an unavoidable part of life – but you are not alone.
Apart from the essentials of food, water and shelter, humans crave safety, belonging and mattering. Safety means creating an environment where we can take risks, stretch and grow. If we are experiencing uncertainty, it is difficult to feel safe. Fear and uncertainty can leave us feeling anxious, stressed and helpless.
People have different personalities and varying levels of tolerance towards uncertainty. Some of us are more tolerant of taking more risks or are more unpredictable than others, but that does not make us immune to worry, fear or anxiety.
The only constant is change
While one day, month or year we may be feeling happy, content and at ease, another we may be feeling anxious and out of control. As the global pandemic has shown, life can be unpredictable – more than we could ever have imagined. But there are ways to manage uncertainty and reduce stress. Here are a few.
Focus on what you CAN control
An article by Beyond Blue and Psychologist Sabia Read suggests it is important to first focus on what we CAN control, to break each day into manageable goals and focus on small tasks.
Slow down your thoughts
When we are stressed, our thoughts tend to speed up. Conversely, we can sometimes find it hard to concentrate. Taking time out, even for just 10 minutes, to practice deep breathing or mindfulness can bring about calm and focus.
Psychologist Danni McClellan reminds us to ground ourselves in the present moment and know your mind does not have to direct your actions. To do this you can try the ‘five things’ exercise: notice five things you can see, hear, notice and feel, which can help you feel grounded and be present.
Minimise the mess
Your environment can impact the way you feel. Even if it is a corner, counter, shelf or room (it does not have to be your whole house or office), minimizing visual mess can help minimize mental stress. Change does not have to happen in a hurry. Whether it is five minutes a day or setting a 30 day de-clutter goal, progress is progress – remember point 1 above – set manageable goals and focus on small tasks.
Dial a friend
Regardless of what you may see on social media, everyone has their challenges. While you may be experiencing stress and uncertainty, so are many others. Checking in with friends or family may not only help you, but it may also help them. use these four steps and have a conversation that could change a life. If not yours, someone else’s.
- Ask R U OK?
- Encourage action
- Check in
We all know physical activity is a great stress reliever, but releasing built up excess energy through exercise can help relieve our fight or flight responses.
Be well informed
Now more than ever it is natural to be worried. It is important to be well informed and to access information and support from reputable sources when you need them.
There are many phone, online and app-based support services available if you need help managing stress during times of uncertainty:
- Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au or 1300 224 636
- Lifeline: www.lifeline.org.au or 13 11 14
- Headspace: www.headspace.com
- Black Dog Institute: www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
- Calm: www.calm.com
- Reachout: about.au.reachout.com
If you are feeling stressed during times of uncertainty, don’t feel you are alone. Many of us have these feelings at one time or another. There is support available. Whether it is family, friends or support services, know that there is help.
– Beyond Blue, Managing your mental health – take control in uncertain times. Read article
– The Growth Institute, The Top 3 Things Humans Crave. Read article
– Psychologist Danni McClellan on the importance of being present. Watch video
– R U OK? www.ruok.org.au
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