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Coping with uncertainty

How we cope with change and uncertainty is very similar to the grieving process

“Change doesn’t happen overnight. There’s no button that’s pushed to magically alter everything.” J.M Darhower

If the last eighteen months has shown us anything, it’s that change can happen overnight. Time and time again, we have had to make sense of a world that is unrecognisable from one week to the next with the Government taking steps that haven’t been enacted since World War II.

We’ve all had to adjust and accept that we don’t always have the answers. We have to take it hour by hour, day by day and see what the world looks like.

How people cope with change

It is hard to think of another event in anyone’s lifetime that affected everyone. Yes, there have been wars, natural disasters and human disasters but not one in living memory that has had such a significant global impact. The world as we know it is never going to be the same again, and perhaps that is a good thing, but how do we cope with this constant uncertainty and look after ourselves and each other?

Studies have described the way we cope with change in four stages:

  1. Shock and disorientation
  2. Anger and emotional responses
  3. Coming to terms with the new situation
  4. Acceptance and moving forward

This may seem familiar as these stages are similar to the grieving process. Most of us will have plans and ideas of what the next few days or weeks look like and when this changes, some will cope better than others.

How to cope with uncertainty

The brain often responds to uncertainty with fear and this can inhibit decision making. People who can spot this fear are often able to contain it before it gets out of control. The following four tips can help you gain control:

  • Challenge negative thoughts
  • Focus on what you can control, rather than what you can’t
  • Don’t dwell on the problems
  • Take a moment to breathe

We have all come a long way from March 2020 and whatever changes and uncertain times may lie ahead, we must remember to be kind to ourselves and each other.