Uncertainty and Stress

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” ―John Allen Paulos, mathematician

Some people are better at dealing with uncertainty than others, but it generally seems that for most people uncertainty is a major stressor and a potential trigger for using drugs and alcohol. Uncertainty isn’t just about not knowing the future, or feeling insecure in the present…it can actually feel like your very survival is being threatened. Currently with COVID-19 continuing as it has, more and more people feel less sure and clear about their lives, their livelihoods and the future. It can feel like there is no end to COVID-19 sometimes, and the future looks confusing and unclear with the increasing number of variants even with the vaccines. Drug and alcohol use is on the rise and addiction has been significantly increasing nationwide. The uncertainty that COVID-19 has created for so many people has definitely added to the increases in addiction rates. 

But more than this, how has uncertainty affected you? How do you feel when there is uncertainty is your life? Do you try to soothe yourself with food, sleeping, exercise, family, friends, or other less healthy things? Uncertainty can definitely make someone feel that they don’t have power or control over their life or situation. Feeling a lack of power or influence over your life can absolutely cause depression, hopelessness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and other mental health issues. These all contribute to triggering someone to use alcohol, drugs or have their sobriety challenged. Here are some tips on how to manage and cope with uncertainty…but it’s always good to think about how uncertainty impacts you specifically and what has helped you to cope with it the past that has either been healthy or unhealthy.

  1. Work on Acceptance

When we resist what we are experiencing, it often makes it worse. Acceptance helps us to live in the present moment and let go of expectations we had for how something ‘actually’ should be. Acceptance helps us to roll with and relax about what happens instead of trying to control or get continually upset about things. 

2. Take Care of Yourself

Self-care is always important for any mental health or stressful situation. Figure out the ways that most help you to feel supported, cared for and the small things you can do to make yourself feel a little better everyday. 

3. Comfort Yourself In Healthy Ways

Indulge sometimes in comfort foods, places, or whatever helps you to feel comforted. Maybe it’s a nice bath, or maybe it’s watching a football game. Whatever helps you to feel comforted and is healthy is worth adding to your routine, especially when you are under a lot of stress and dealing with uncertainty. 

4. Don’t automatically accept all your thoughts as true 

Just because you may have negative thoughts sometimes doesn’t mean they are true. You can question your thoughts as they come up and you don’t have to accept them. In fact, it is healthy and important to question beliefs and thoughts. If we believe everything we think, it’s easy to go down a negative rabbit hole pretty quickly. 

5. Be in The Present Moment -Stay in the present moment

Practice presence and being in the present moment everyday. Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine and using it throughout the day, even during small spaces of time like when you are waiting at an elevator or waiting in a line, adds up. The more you practice mindfulness, the more automatic and easier it becomes. 

6. Don’t Buy Into Being A Victim 

When we are feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty and stress, it can be easy to feel like a powerless victim. Although seeing yourself as a victim may make you feel better in the very short term, ultimately you will feel disempowered and less hopeful or happy in the long term. Seeing yourself as a victim may temporarily make you feel better about the uncertainties of life, but ultimately it’s not an effective role to play.

7. Find Meaning and Purpose Despite Any Circumstances 

If you can find individual meaning and purpose for yourself in any situation, it will make it much easier to cope with and create more positivity and empowerment. It is possible to look at almost any situation and see something good in it or find some kind of meaning behind it. Yes, it may take practice. But the more you work to identify the meaning and purpose in things, the more automatic it becomes:)

8. Think About Past Successes

We’ve all had some success of some type in our lives. Even if it seemed small, it helps to think back when you are going through difficult times and remember the successes you’ve had, the positives you’ve had, and the times where you felt empowered and in line with how you wanted your life to flow. Those memories can give us hope that we will have success again. They can also help us to see what we’ve been successful with in the past, and how we can apply those things maybe to the future. 

9. Learn New Skills

When you are experiencing stress and uncertainty, sometimes it’s a good time to learn something new! Learn a new skill! It can help you to focus on something different and redirect your attention away from something you may be worried about. Learning new skills is empowering, opens new doors, and can be something positive to focus on. 

10. Be Aware of The Social Media and News You Are Watching

The things we focus on affect our wellbeing. What you put into your mind, affects your mind. This is why it’s important with social media and the news to be aware of what you are watching, listening to and exposing yourself to. All the negativity in the news and social media the last year and now has an impact on feeling that things are uncertain and stress-filled. It can also make you feel less empowered. 

11. Stop Yourself From Ruminating on Negative Thoughts, Feelings and Beliefs

Rumination is a funny thing, it tends to pick up speed and is harder to get away from the more it happens. The best way to stop rumination is to practice meditation, or practice other techniques such as spending time in nature and taking time out of your normal routine. 

12. Be A Friend To Yourself

Be kind to yourself and be a friend to yourself. We are often hardest on ourselves and least kind to ourselves and don’t even know it. Pay attention to how you are talking to yourself and make sure you are being kind:)

13. Recognize When You Need Help

Reach out for help. You don’t need to be in an emergency or an extreme situation to reach out for help. If you feel you need help, that is ok. Try not to be afraid to reach out or accept help. 

14. Control The Things You Can

Work on controlling the things you can. Maybe this is just working out everyday, or small activities during your day, or your work. But control the small things you can. It can help you feel more empowered, and also counteract any stories or beliefs of being a victim or that everything is completely out of your control and you are helpless. Start where you are, work with what you have. 

15. Stay Connected

Connect to friends, families or whatever social networks help you to feel support. Social support, whether it’s in person, by phone or online, is all positive for buffering the difficulties of uncertainty and stress.

16. Make a Plan

Create a plan for yourself. Work on a plan that will help you feel that life is more structured, safe, and secure. Even if it’s a future plan, or doesn’t feel possible, it’s good to make a plan for how you can feel more secure and certain. Maybe the plan includes learning new skills, having a new job, a new or improved relationship, or a new exercise regime. Whatever helps you to feel like you can move forward. 

An important part of recovery is being comfortable managing uncertainty and stress. Uncertainty is part of life, and it’s something that can be easier to manage in time. Silver Lining understands that you have spent a lot of time dealing with difficult emotions and triggers during your time using drugs and alcohol. These experiences impact your sobriety and a treatment plan for living your best life in recovery. Our policy of treating small numbers of people in each group allows us to get to know you and the exact type of help you need to learn to be kind to yourself and achieve your goals. We help you flourish now and in the future. Let our Huntington Beach location be where you begin again! Call us today for more information. (866) 448-4563.

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