How to cope in uncertain times

Uncertainty is hard on us. Just thinking about uncertainty causes the brain to release stress hormones and blood pressure to rise.

What’s unknown or unpredictable looms large in our mind. The uncertainty causes us to freeze up, and prevents us from making decisions.

Today, this resonates more than ever. Businesses don’t know how long their doors will stay closed. The stock market is tumbling. People under orders to stay at home aren’t sure how long they’ll remain so. Others await announcements of similar measures.

When it feels like the earth is shifting beneath our feet, there are things we can do to steady ourselves.

1. Take slow, deep breaths

In times of change, everything can seem to be moving quickly. Take a moment to give yourself the gift of stillness.

Slowing your breaths can slow your thoughts. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, panicked, or just a little down, turn your attention to your breath.

Pay attention to your chest and shoulders rising and falling, and the sensation of air going in and out of your body. It can help to pay particular attention to your exhales.

2. Remind yourself of what is certain

It can seem like everything is up in the air. But, when you think about it, there are many parts of your life and yourself that have not changed, that you can still depend upon.

Who can you count on for support? How can your core strengths and values help yourself and others? What kinds of routines can you establish, and stick to? What music always soothes you?

Pick one thing that is certain, and act on it. For example, if you value spirituality, you might attend a virtual faith service. Or perhaps you know that speaking with one of your friends or family members always makes you laugh—go ahead and give them a call.

Taking stock of what is certain helps us stay positive and gives us peace of mind. It also helps us respond more effectively to the situation and make better decisions.

3. Practice mindful acceptance

Mindful acceptance is recognizing what is worrying you, and acknowledging that your concern is normal.

Take a moment to reflect on your feelings. Remind yourself that difficult emotions are not a sign of weakness and will eventually pass.

If you find meditation helpful, now is a great time to practice. Set a timer, close your eyes, and let your attention rest on your breath. Naturally, your mind will start thinking—that’s what our minds do!

Try labeling your thoughts (e.g., “That’s worry” or “That’s fear”) and letting them pass you by without getting caught up. Observing our thoughts in this way can give us perspective in our worries.


We hope you are safe and well. Take things one step at a time.


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