Managing the Stress of Uncertainty

By Wendy Bacigalupi-Bednarz, Editorial Contributor

By nature, people are creatures of habit. We feel like we’re in control of our lives, especially when things go our way. However, when life feels uncertain, we can lose our sense of control, creating stress and anxiety.

Stress is far more than an emotional state of mind. It’s a combination of thoughts, words and physical changes to our brains and bodies — a “brain-body connection” that influences our emotions and behaviors, says Diane Robinson, PhD, a neuropsychologist with the Integrative Medicine Department at Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center. And, each of us reacts to life’s uncertainties differently. Some are naturally more resilient to change, while others are less so.

Some of today’s most notable causes of uncertainty include politics, the economy, personal finances, healthcare concerns and natural disasters, say researchers from the American Psychological Association. Events such as these often cause us to over-contemplate worst-case scenarios.

There is no way to remove uncertainty from our lives. However, we can manage how much power stress has over us physically and emotionally. These strategies can help keep uncertainty stress in check.

Choose Your Dwelling: We often dwell on issues we cannot control and worst-case scenarios. Counter uncertainty by focusing on factors you can control, such as planning this week’s meals and other routines.

Take Care of You: It might be tempting to reach for comfort foods, but it’s important to stick to your health routines. Continue to eat healthfully, exercise regularly and get enough sleep.

Reach Out to Your Network: Some of us isolate ourselves when we’re under stress. Instead, stay connected with trusted friends and family. They’re your social support network.

Know Where to Go for Help: If managing the stress of uncertainty becomes overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your healthcare team includes experts on stress management and coping skills.

Discover more ways to manage stress at

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