COVID-19 ushered in obvious health threats and practical difficulties as well as a subtler pandemic of individual and collective uncertainty that has affected people of all ages and walks of life with physical and emotional stresses.
While a certain amount of uncertainty can be good—keeping decision-making skills and resilience sharp—when stakes are high with potentially negative outcomes for a prolonged time, this stress can affect sleep and health, and even become paralyzing. Studies indicate that people with a lower tolerance for uncertainty are more susceptible to depression, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other cognitive impairment.
The good news is that there are effective ways to cope with the stresses of uncertainty.
Taking small steps to manage stress can go a long way toward creating ease and contentment in the mind and lowering stress hormones. Movement, fresh air, healthy foods, and sufficient sleep are powerful contributors to well-being, even in tiny doses. Maintaining and supporting physical health lays a solid foundation for mental health.
Other ways to ease the strain of uncertainty include creating a plan—daily or weekly goals that you can track and achieve; limiting media exposure that contributes to the stress; and making time for enjoyable activities that allow you to become absorbed in a “flow state,” directing attention to the moments at hand.
Read Equitable’s article on easing uncertainty to learn more about lessening the stresses of these unpredictable times for yourself and others.