Advice hub. Coping with uncertainty

Life is uncertain even at the best of times. Whether it’s relationships, work, health or finances, change is always present. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought disruption in spades, the pace at which life can change feels as if it has accelerated especially when you add into the mix the cost-of-living crisis and armed conflict in Europe. It may feel overwhelming – but there are strategies you can use to help you cope.

We all deal with change differently. What is key is to acknowledge the changes. Then you can start to think about how to deal with the unexpected and cope in the best way possible.

The way we perceive events is key. If you feel overwhelmed by uncertainty in your career or your personal life, talk to someone about it. It will help you to gain perspective.

We can’t always choose what happens to us but we do have a choice about how we handle challenges. Consider what has helped you in the past and how you can best help yourself. What supports you in life and what soothes you in times of stress?

Generally, we can choose to face the uncertainty and work out how we might change the situation, or we can accept the uncertainty and think through how we can expand our capacity to cope. In an ideal world, we might think about how to combine both these options to increase our resilience while being realistic about our options.

How to make yourself more resilient:

  • Practise healthy habits and take responsibility for looking after yourself.
  • Get enough rest, exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Invest time in reflecting on your thoughts, feelings and behaviours.

When you feel ready, shift your energies from the problem to potential solutions.

Remember, the only thing that is permanent is impermanency, so whatever you’re going through, this too shall pass. Use your energies to think how best to support yourself. If you’re good at caring for others but are less focused on your own self-care, have a think about how you would support a friend going through similar situations.

Ask for help in the face of adversity, drawing strength from others can prove particularly valuable. Reach out to others in a similar situation; contact the EAP assistance line or the HA helpline for information on how HA might be able to support you and/or signpost you to other charities and local organisations offering peer-to-peer support and advocacy.

Sometimes we need people to really understand and empathise with our situation before we can look at how to move on. The easiest thing to do in these circumstances is to withdraw, and this may prove the least helpful reaction. In time you may feel ready to support your peers in similar circumstances via volunteering, interestingly people who take up voluntary roles quickly add to their social network and often report a satisfaction and positivity from giving to others.

Shouldering a crisis or challenge on your own can be isolating and worsen your situation. We all need others to a greater or lesser extent and you will be the best ambassador of what you need. The great paradox of life is that the more we are able to accept the twists and turns of life, the more we are able to cope and be resilient, and in turn, the better equipped we are to make the changes that we might desire.