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How to Live with Stress of Uncertainty without Giving In


Uncertainty about something is a major cause of stress.

Many different situations create uncertainty: the threat of redundancy, waiting to hear about tests for serious illness, waiting for a mortgage to come through, selling a house, and so on.

It is especially difficult when the situation is uncontrollable and you cannot predict what may happen.

Here are some tips that can help you to live with uncertainty:

Do what you can

First of all, do not let uncertainty paralyze you. Do what you can, talk to someone to get the facts, etc. Then accept that you have done all you can and start thinking about yourself and your reactions to uncertainty.

Recognize the uncertainty for what it is

Uncertainty is an unpleasant and distressing feeling that can interfere with daily life. Recognize that it is the uncertainty that is causing the feelings and not necessarily the actual situation you think you are worrying about.

Limit the Problem

Find some certainties to hang on to. These will help you to feel more connected. A routine of going to work, taking your supplements or eating meals in the usual way can help provide a feeling of certainty or security. Or you may turn to your most reliable sources of support, such as music, walking, or your friends. 

Normalize your life

As far as possible, keep doing the things you usually do, in the way that you usually do them. This is especially important if you are preoccupied or distressed about somebody else. If you run out of food, for example, because you were too worried to notice that the cupboard was empty, you will feel worse.

Look after yourself

Treat yourself to something nice. Look after yourself well when you are going through a difficult time – just as you would look after someone else.

Do not withdraw

Pleasures, relaxations or recreations often feel like an effort when you are preoccupied with uncertainty. You may feel too tired or worried to bother. But withdrawing from activities that you used to enjoy can leave you with even more time to focus negatively on your own worries. Use them as distraction even if you no longer enjoy them as much as you used to.

Talk to someone else about the problem

Most people feel worse if they isolate themselves with a worry. Try to find a balance between retreating silently into yourself and repeatedly seeking reassurance or talking about nothing other than your problems.

Keep the problem in perspective

It is only too easy to jump to the conclusion that the worst possible thing will happen. The more you think about bad things that might happen, the more likely they seem and the harder it is to see how to cope with them. 

Do not jump to any conclusions about situations. Wait to find out the facts, before making assumptions about what you will do or what will happen. The worst usually does not happen.

Turn your mind to something else

Distraction is a very useful strategy, providing that it is not the only one you use. If you have first done all you can to sort out the problem, then do something else to prevent your mind from dwelling on it.

Take the pressure off

Living with uncertainty is tiring. It can deplete your resources, so do not take on extra commitments, if you can help it. Make sure that you are eating well and getting as much sleep as you can. Also take exercise to keep up your strength and stamina.

Ask: What good might come of this in the end?

Uncertainty is unsettling, but old patterns of living may have become stale or sterile. Being swept along with the current of life can help people to adapt in creative ways, to develop new skills or to overcome old anxieties. It is not always a bad thing to have one’s foundations shaken up by uncertainties, even though the period of adjustment may be painful and difficult.

Use meditation or prayer to help you put your situation into context

It is often possible to use prayer or meditation to provide a wider perspective on uncertainty. Believing that we are here to learn and to experience the full range of emotions can help us to accept things we find difficult, because they can be seen as part of a wider process, which leaves us more empowered as a result of having lived through the changes or the uncertainty. 

Belief  in a greater purpose can allow acceptance of a situation. Another way of  learning to tolerate uncertainty is to meditate using the mantra ‘This too will pass’

Every situation has to end. You can use this to get you through the worst of an uncertain situation.




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