How to Cope in an Uncertain World

Over the past couple of years, we’ve had to cope with a pandemic, political uprisings and now war in the Ukraine. Life is constantly changing so you’d think we’d be better at dealing with uncertainty. But humans crave stability, and we crave it most when life is unpredictable.

This is where coping strategies come in to play. There are unhealthy coping strategies, like alcohol or junk food and there are also healthy coping strategies. 

What is coping? Coping is an active process where you pause, appraise the situation, target the problem, and then choose a set of interventions.

Stay grounded – Create a safe space for you and your family. Structure your home so that you and your family feel grounded. Reduce the sadness and stress of uncertainty by keeping News to a minimum. Don’t talk endlessly about sensational stories. Connect with each other and think of your home as a sanctuary from the uncertainty of life.

Use routines – Keep scheduled mealtimes and bedtimes, and daily chores, including the kids’ homework. Also make sure there are regular periods of relaxation and fun, like a family games night or a walk. Routines provide a steady rhythm and research shows that when your day has an organised framework, you develop a greater tolerance for unpredictability.

Choose information sources carefully – During uncertain times be guardedly curious and try not to accept sensational stories as factual.

Embrace uncertainty – Ultimately we have to live with uncertainty. Cultivating hope and possibility during uncertain times is important. Instead of focusing on sadness or anxiety, shift the focus to wonder or curiosity. Confronting what we don’t know can trigger creative thinking and problem solving and help you and your family feel empowered in the face of the unpredictable.

Practice gratitude – Make time to notice and reflect on the good and meaningful things and people in your life and encourage your children or grandchildren to do the same. Studies show that gratitude generates feel-good neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine in your brain which help to reduce worry.

By Kate McCarthy