Why is uncertainty stressful? Uncertainty is stressful because of the fact that it is the unknown. The only certainty is that life is uncertain! That’s probably a phrase that you have heard more than once, specially recently. We all know it, but do we truly believe it? Do we strive to control the uncontrollable and how can we feel in control in uncertain times?
The key to making changes is to first recognise that we are feeling stressed. Keeping a journal can really help. By writing down the information surrounding a stressful event we get clarity and understanding around what made it stressful for us.
Keep a journal and note:
- Triggers – what happened
- Behaviours – how did you react both physically and mentally
- Circumstances – surrounding the event
- Note physical signs of stress
If writing is not something you enjoy a text or recorded note on your smart phone will work equally well.
Short Term Strategies
The best thing you can the minute you are aware that you feel stressed is to take some good deep breaths deep into your belly. Remembers Primatives Amn’s Response to Stress for Part 1? Takeing a deep breath sends messages to the brain that there is nothing to worry about. It tells your body to start resetting, which can take up to an hour. When you are stuck in fight or flight mode you physically cannot take a deep breath because everything is tense, so the body knows that, the fact you can take a deep breath, everything is resolvable.
For some ideas on breathing and other exercises please do take a look at this video.
Longer Term Strategies
It is useful to challenge your thoughts and remind yourself of other times when things have worked out ok or when the things you have been worried about have not come to pass.
Think of the situation that you are finding stressful:
- What signs might you be aware of?
- Interrupted sleep patterns
- Feeling on edge
- Feeling inexplicably angry or tearful for example
- What changes could you make?
- Physical changes like breathing deeply
- Mindset changes – we will cover more about those in part 3
- What would be the consequences of the changes?
- How might the changes help you feel more resourceful?
It is useful to refer to your journal notes when thinking this through and write down your answers to the above questions. I am sure you know the saying “Do what you have always done and you will get what you have always got!” So do something differently, make a change and you will change the outcome.
In other words change your behaviour!
This blog has been all about reducing stress. In the following blogs I will be giving 2 more ways to manage uncertainty.
Part 3 – Mind-set
Part 4 – Manage Ambiguity