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How can I cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic?

Mental Health

A: Bring awareness to how you feel, draw on your current strategies, and work towards acceptance of uncertainty.

Things seem to be in a state of change and you may feel like you are on a rollercoaster. New guidelines, unknowns about return to work and school, and changing expectations about how our lives will be in the fall all contribute to how we are feeling. But there are a few things you can do to build up your ability to tolerate uncertainty.

🌈 BRING AWARENESS TO HOW YOU FEEL

How do you feel right now in your mind and your body? Label your emotion, notice where the emotion comes from and if it relates to a situation, and notice if your body feels unsettled as a result. Why is this important? We have automatic reactions to what is going on around us. By labeling it and noticing it we can adopt a more neutral response. We don’t have to react to what we are feeling. We can acknowledge it and move on. Exercises like the body scan are a great way to build this skill.

💪 DRAW ON YOUR CURRENT SKILLS

Remember your basics: sleep, nutrition, keeping a good schedule and routine, limiting news intake, and maintaining connection with others. Focusing on these things helps us remember that there are things that we can control, even if we can’t control everything. By focusing on basics like sleep and nutrition, we are setting our bodies and our minds up to respond appropriately to external stressors. See our previous post for additional ideas and strategies.

🍂WORK TOWARDS ACCEPTANCE OF UNCERTAINTY

Tolerating uncertainty and not labeling it as good or bad helps our minds to recognize that uncertainty is not actually a bad thing, just a part of life. It is normal for our minds to dislike uncertainty-we seek a model to make sense of this and for some of us this can create a fight or flight like response. This is why it is so important to increase awareness to the automatic thoughts and body sensations that arise when we are presented with uncertainty. But by building up our tolerance of it (even if we don’t like it!), we can rewire our minds to view uncertainty as neutral and even OK. There are many ways to do this, but mindfulness is one. Here is an example of this approach.

There is no one size fits all approach to improving our mental wellness, but these suggestions help us take simple steps towards helping us cope with uncertainty. And these skills may serve us well beyond the fall as there surely are many uncertainties ahead. We will be with you for the ride.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

With Love,
Those Nerdy Girls

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (Español: 1-888-628-9454; Hearing Support: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

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