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9 Tips for Dealing With Uncertainty & Anxiety Right Now - CCL

Given that we can’t do much right now to make COVID-19 disappear overnight, what can we do to cope with the distress we’re experiencing? Read on for 9 tips, based on what we know from research, for dealing with uncertainty and anxiety.


1. Be honest with yourself.

The first step in managing distressing thoughts is to notice and acknowledge those thoughts. When you feel anxious, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of or worried about in this very moment?”

2. Challenge anxiety-driven, distressing thoughts.

Challenge any assumptions you’re making. For example, remind yourself that just because someone around you is coughing doesn’t mean they have COVID-19. Many times, we tend to respond to anxiety-driven thoughts by seeking out evidence supporting those thoughts (i.e., confirmation bias), all the while ignoring evidence to the contrary.

Challenge your thoughts by considering alternative perspectives and weighing all available evidence.

3. Look on the bright side.

Consider reframing your thoughts to focus on the positive. For example, when you catch yourself thinking, “I’m stuck at home,” you might instead tell yourself, “I’m safe at home and am able to do some things I normally don’t have time to do.” If you feel panic when having the thought, “I’m definitely going to get sick,” reframe it to, “I cannot predict the future, but I know that if I take proper precautions, such as social distancing and washing my hands, I will be doing what I can to be preventative.”

4. Focus on what you can control.

Channel your energy into aspects of your life that you can control. For example, you can be safe and cautious through measures like social distancing and hand washing, but you cannot fully control whether others make the same choice; who or how many will contract COVID-19; and whether the government will respond in a specific, desired way.

Ask yourself, “What is within my power?” If you have done all you can, or the answer is “nothing,” consider redirecting your attention to a topic or concern over which you can exert more control.

5. Practice mindfulness by being aware and intentional.

When distressing feelings increase, notice your breathing. Oftentimes people will overbreathe when feeling anxious. Consider intentionally focusing on extending the exhale; for example, breathing in to a count of 4 and breathing out to a count of 6.

Find ways to ground yourself to the present moment. Do a 5-sense check and notice what you are experiencing through all 5 senses. Remind yourself that you are capable of tolerating the distress via calming, affirming thoughts, such as “Right now, I am fine” and “I can handle this.”

6. Take action through value-driven behaviors.

If you greatly value family, for example, find a creative way to behaviorally engage with that value. Maybe that means calling your aunt whom you haven’t spoken to in some time to check on her or to ask if she needs help.

7. Start a gratitude journal.

Gratitude has been shown to relate to a variety of positive outcomes, like greater well-being. Consider keeping a gratitude journal where you jot down 3 things for which you are grateful every day or sending a brief note of gratitude to someone. Giving thanks can actually make you a better leader.

8.Find new ways to connect with others.

Social distancing can occur without total social withdrawal. It is possible to remain in contact with loved ones, even if social distancing may be preventing your typical ways of connecting.

Get creative! If you normally don’t engage with video calls, consider experimenting with it for virtual “face-to-face” interactions. Or seek out an online game you can play with a friend or loved one.

9. Infuse your day with physical activity.

You don’t have to train for a marathon to get your heart rate up. Even 5- to 10-minute stretch breaks will increase your productivity and creativity. Pick a favorite song and devote the length of that song to stretching out your body. The important thing is to keep moving.


To read the full CCL article, please click here.

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