Five Tips to Help you Deal with Uncertainty

In 1948, the mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer Claude Shannon stated that ‘information’ is ‘reduction of uncertainty.’ (Shannon, 1948).

Living with so much uncertainty is challenging. Humans crave information about the future in the same way we crave food and other primary rewards. The brain perceives uncertainty as a threat and tries to protect us by focusing its attention on managing the risk and creating certainty. 

Uncertainty can create feelings of loss of control, anger, sadness, anxiety, and negative rumination. Our minds go into overdrive with ‘what if’ scenarios, initiating the fight or flight response to help us cope with the current or looming threat.

The good news is that we can do things to mitigate the mental and physical effect of uncertainty, focusing our attention on those things that we can control – that give us a sense of empowerment and a sense of relief from the intensity of our current experience.

Five Tips to Help you Deal with Uncertainty

  1. You are not alone

It can feel reassuring to remind yourself that you are not alone and that this is a global issue; we are all in this together. 

  1. Acknowledge how you are Feeling

Reach out to a friend, colleague, family member, or therapist. This is a powerful step towards acknowledging your feelings.

  1. Be Present With Your Thoughts and Feelings

Instead of avoiding stress and anxiety, a more mindful approach to thoughts and feelings can be helpful. Taking the time to explore that emotion can help dissipate the uncomfortable feeling and regain a sense of power and control in the moment. The more we take the time to process our feelings, the more in tune we become, the more control we feel, which can help the uncomfortable feeling dissipate. 

There are many effective approaches that can help us manage our thoughts and feelings – Mindfulness is one of them. Research shows that the Mindfulness approach of naming reactive emotions is a useful skill that reduces the influence that uncomfortable feelings have over you. 

Here is an exercise that helps you to be present with your thoughts and feelings.

Step 1: Hit the pause button

Step 2: Bring your attention to your breath

Step 3: What is going on in my body? How am I doing right now, at this moment? Please don’t judge yourself for feeling this way; this is part of the human experience.

Step 4: Notice what emotions you are experiencing and where you are feeling them.

Step 5: Self-soothe. Can you put your hand over the place where you feel the feeling? (I feel anxiety, frustration, and anger as a burning feeling in my solar plexus, above my tummy button.) Reassure yourself. Accept the feeling that you are experiencing. Label it. ‘There is loneliness,’ ‘There is abandonment.’ 

Step 6: Can you notice any thoughts? Say Hi! to them and try not to judge them.

Step 7: Notice if the emotions are less intense

Remember, it will get easier and feel better over time. Modest aspirations translate into small wins that lead to gradual change. Reinforcing new behaviours takes time, and each time you practise it, the better you are at it.

  1. Focus on Positive Action

Choose to be more present focusing your attention on a creative task, cooking, exercising, listening to music, a guided meditation, or talking with a friend. If you are feeling overwhelmed, then use an effective breathing technique to help anchor you back into the present moment. The feeling of overwhelm will pass; it will come and go – it is just visiting – for now.

  1. Comfort Yourself in Healthy Ways

Nurture and look after yourself. Focus on sleep, good food, rest, movement/exercise, connecting with people/nature, and those things that give you a sense of routine and purpose. I have clients who have incorporated rituals or ‘anchor’ points into their days to provide them with a sense of comfort and control. Some of these are, e.g., running after breakfast, having a cup of coffee in the morning, waking up earlier, so they don’t rush, going for a 15-minute walk to break up the day.

Remember – you’re not alone.

I hope this helps you.

Annette Sloly

If you are ready to manage anxiety and feel more at ease, then take the first step to see me for online video sessions. Please contact me on hello@annettesloly.com  or 0117 214 0706 to make an appointment. Read about the sessions, recent testimonials and keep up to date with recent blog posts here.

I am an experienced Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist BA Hons. DHP HPD DSFH CNHC MNCH (Reg). With a lifelong interest in mindfulness, neuroscience, performance and corporate experience, it is my privilege to guide and support clients so that they can build the resilience they need to manage anxiety, stress and ultimately lead happier lives.  I have had the pleasure of supporting a range of people from all walks of life in both the public and private sectors as well as in specialist areas of performance psychology – fear of public speaking, stage fright, and optimal performance in the performing arts and sports performance.

Read about the sessions, recent testimonials and keep up to date with recent blog posts here. To take the first step please contact me on hello@annettesloly.com or 0117 214 0706 to book an online initial consultation. Alternatively, please fill in a contact form here.

“Annette has been fantastically helpful for me, straight from the first session I was sure that I’d made the right decision in booking a session. She has really helped me transform how I deal with stressful situations. I am now able to take a step back from challenges and think clearly in making decisions. In addition to this, she’s helped me learn relaxation and mindfulness techniques, which have helped me to really develop a feeling of calmness and reduce anxiety. This has had an immense impact on my life as I feel I can now be myself in all situations, without anxiety holding me back.” Jack, 28, Manager