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Infection Prevention & Management 29 Mar 2020

Dealing With The Unknown

How can you manage your stress levels during times of uncertainty?

Our stress levels naturally increase during times of uncertainty and we begin to feel nervous and anxious. Right now, the world is dealing with an unprecedented situation – COVID-19 has taken everyone by surprise. No one was prepared for it and we don’t know what the immediate future will look like. High levels of uncertainty around the situation are naturally causing people stress and anxiety.

We spend most of our lives as creatures of habit and have routines that we follow day to day. These routines help us keep on top of all that we have to do and help us to maintain some control over our lives. When situations like the COVID19 pandemic arise, things are suddenly out of our control. Change is happening and we can’t control it – and we probably don’t like it.

However, in situations like this, there is one thing we can control – how we deal with it. How you choose to respond to an uncertain situation will ultimately affect how you cope and eventually recover from the challenging situation.

So how can you make sure you are dealing with uncertain situations in a way that will help you cope as well as possible and aid your recovery in the long run?

  • Stay Positive: It is natural during times of worry to focus on the negatives. The ‘what ifs’ fill our thoughts and we try to prepare ourselves for disappointment by imagining the worst outcome. This leads to stress and anxiety and can set us up for failure. Instead, try to imagine a positive outcome. Think about things with a clear head and try to stay calm. Not only will this make you feel more positive, it will help you make more rational decisions and boost your confidence.
  • Keep things in perspective: Although it may be filling your every thought, try to stop focusing on what you can’t control. Try to think about what you can control in life and take a break from everything else. If global events are worrying you, avoid the media and encourage friends to change the subject for a while.
  • Get your facts straight: It is important to stay informed with the latest news and developments in uncertain times, but make sure your sources are reliable. Be careful about what you read online, especially comments and articles that are being shared on social media. Try to limit how many times you check the news as it can increase anxiety, especially at bedtime when it could distract you from relaxing and getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Keep normalcy: Whatever is causing the disruption to your normal routine, may be affecting many aspects of your everyday life. Schools may be shut, holidays canceled or work patterns changing. Try to maintain as much normalcy as you can and keep a routine at home. Stick to regular sleep patterns and mealtimes, and if the disruption means you do have extra time at home, try and use this time to do something proactive, like learning a new skill or reading a book. Keeping a normal routine is especially important if you have children at home – they may not fully understand what is going on, but they will notice how you are reacting to the situation.
  • Learn to let go: Try and accept that we can’t control everything in life. Uncertainty isn’t always ideal, but usually we can accept and tolerate whatever it throws at us. We can only do a certain amount in any given moment as we are only human – things will evolve soon and until they do, you can only control how you deal with things, so remember to go easy on yourself.

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