How to cope with anxiety when uncertainty hits?

By Jesse Viana | UX Copywriter at Monday

Uncertainty means lack of control, shortage of answers, worrying about the future — and isn’t it what we’ve been feeling for, at least, the past year?

Now that one stops to think about it, it’s been an entire lap around the sun since we’ve endured the arrival of the new coronavirus and the world pandemic for the first time.

Social distancing, lockdowns, entire cities looking apocalyptically deserted, face masks, hand sanitizer, the crippling fear of the virus coming to our households and loved ones… Gee, it ain’t been easy, let me tell you.

Fortunately, we have this amazing little thing that can help ANYONE cope with overwhelming new levels of anxiety and uncertainty, and that thing is resilience.

It’s a little something that empowers people to accept and adapt to difficult situations, have the strength to process and overcome hardship in life — to face its challenges, adversities, and crisis. Sure, it takes some time, dedication, and a little help from your friends.

The awesome part?

Everyone can build it, and we want to help you get there.

But first things first.

Anxiety and uncertainty, holding hands under a tree 🎶

Uncertainty is, in itself, a powerful catalyst for anxiety, as it makes you feel vigilant — even though not everyone is affected in the same way. It all depends on how each person experiences anxiety.

More anxious people, like yours truly, ask a million different questions about every situation and worry too much; as for less anxious people, it’s all about ‘going with the flow. Some may even enjoy the unknown as something thrilling, open-ended, and full of possibilities.

I wish I was one of these people, but baby steps, right?

Unprecedented uncertainty like the times we’ve been living in may trigger new anxiety levels even to the less anxious people. Let me tell you, and I hope this to be reassuring: what you’ve been feeling is perfectly OK. It may be out of your control, but there are coping mechanisms to control what you CAN — and that is yourself*.

* I know this may sound like ‘Shanti-Shanti shenanigans,’ but bear with me.

Let’s start with the basics: identify and tune out unproductive worrying. That will make you feel even more anxious and uncertain, so if there’s nothing you can do about it, it’s not yours to worry about. Recognizing what is and isn’t worth the worry can be a crucial first step.

Another important thing is to create new habits and routines to give you a sense of purpose. The disruption of our everyday routines took an incredible toll on our lives — being it in smaller or larger ways — but we are in control of it. Besides, it gives us a sense of purpose and control, and oh boy, don’t we feel accomplished when we complete a task?

Lastly, but most importantly, accept what you can’t control. Try to stay away from obsessive consumption of information — yes, I know this may be a challenging thing to accomplish, as we want to stay on top of things and get even the slightest grasp of certainty.

Unfortunately, this will only trigger your anxiety and uncertainty even further. We’re in this for the long haul, but we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel: so don’t give up just yet!

That’s why resilience is the way to go.

Resilience in times of uncertainty

Working from home, worrying about losing a job, financial struggles, schools closing, juggling both work and personal lives… yep: we sure are struggling.

The new lockdowns are making people feel lonely, isolated, stressed, anxious, apathetic, or even depressed, so it’s only normal for us to feel irritable and disconnected. But being resilient is all about learning from past experiences and developing new coping strategies moving forward.

Stress can overcome resilience, and we all have a breaking point, but we can learn how to be resilient at any age — it helps us survive, recover and thrive.

So how can we build resilience in these uncertain times? 💪

Many of us are struggling with the challenge that is working from home, handling finances, parenting, long-distance relationships, or spending too much time with our spouses and kids without having a minute to ourselves or to connect with others.

It’s crucial to don’t fall prey to isolation and to surround ourselves with a support network of empathic and passionate people who will make us feel less alone. Videochat with family and friends, and stay connected with the ones you love the most.

Another important thing is to take care of ourselves, from the inside and out. Deep breathing helps you stay calm, meditation and visualization (clearing your mind and visualizing positive outcomes), and exercising to fill you up with endorphins and energy. Don’t forget to get good sleep, keep hydrated, and choose healthy eating!

I know that it may be hard to keep optimistic when everything feels so uncertain (as of right now, but remember, it WILL get better!), but positive thinking will help you focus on hope and to be able to see the silver lining. Owning your negative thoughts and fighting them with good ones is going to feel amazing.

Let’s work those resilience muscles, shall we?

You can do this! ❤️

Thank you for reading, and I hope it helps you in any way. Remember that we’re all in this together and that you’re precious and important! Feel free to leave a comment, a shout, or just hit the clap button.

Monday is a Business Design Consultancy based in sunny Lisbon. We co-create with ambitious leaders to build better businesses. We use strategy & design to transform businesses from within.

This core philosophy stands at the center of everything we create. Clients include: Mercedes, Red Bull, Banco de Portugal, Microsoft, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda, Galp, Jogos Santa Casa, EDP…

We co-create with ambitious leaders to build better businesses. We use strategy & design to transform businesses from within.