The world is in the grip of a global pandemic

We are living in extremely uncertain times – and that uncertainty can be difficult to cope with.

  • You may feel worried right now.
  • You may struggle to keep anxious thoughts in check.
  • And you may feel unsure about the future.
  • You may suffer with symptoms of stress.

But help is at hand – you CAN learn to live with uncertainty.

Facing Uncertainty is Scarier than Facing Physical Pain

A new study shows that fear of the unknown, the uncertainty of something bad happening, can be more stressful than the knowledge of something bad happening.

In 2016, a group of London researchers explored how people react to being told they will either “definitely” or “probably” receive a painful electric shock. They discovered an intriguing paradox. Volunteers who knew they would definitely receive a painful electric shock felt calmer and were measurably less agitated than those who were told they only had a 50 percent chance of receiving the electric shock.

Researchers recruited 45 volunteers to play a computer game in which they turned over digital rocks that might have snakes hiding underneath. Throughout the game, they had to guess whether each rock concealed a snake. When a snake appeared, they received a mild but painful electric shock on the hand. Over the course of the game they got better about predicting which rocks they’d find snakes under, but the game was designed to keep changing the odds of success to maintain ongoing uncertainty.

When we’re facing uncertainty, it’s the fact that something bad might happen that affects us.

The volunteers’ level of uncertainty correlated to their level of stress. So, if someone felt “certain” he or she would find a snake, stress levels were significantly lower than if they felt that maybe they would find a snake.

In both cases, they’d get a shock, but their stress was loaded with added uncertainty.

Archy de Berker from the UCL Institute of Neurology said: “Our experiment allows us to draw conclusions about the effect of uncertainty on stress. It turns out that it’s much worse not knowing you are going to get a shock than knowing you definitely will or won’t.”

Uncertainty Triggers our Primitive Survival Instinct

If we can’t rationalise or deal with a perceived threat, we engage in the unhelpful process called “worry”.

We go over and over whatever the problem is to find solutions, but in the case of uncertainty there are no definite solutions.

Does this sound familiar?

Does this make us feel better? No, of course it doesn’t – it makes us feel worse.

In our need for certainty, we often “catastrophise”  uncertain situations – we see or talk of a situation as worse than it actually is. Worrying doesn’t solve anything and often we spend time worrying over things that never actually happen.

Worry can lead to anxiety.

The modern brain struggles to distinguish between real threat and perceived threat.

The result is that the primitive brain takes over and triggers the primitive survival instinct, the fight or flight response.

It asks questions:

  • What is going to happen…?
  • What is around the corner for me…?
  • Should I be doing more…?
  • Should I be doing less…?
  • What if my business is threatened…?
  • What if my livelihood is threatened…?
  • What if my life is threatened…?

The lack of answers can lead to:

  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Frustration
  • Stress
  • Sleep issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

What can we do to help ourselves?

There are a number of things we can do to reduce the effects of uncertainty:

  • Awareness is your superpower – be aware of your feelings and emotions
  • Notice the “worry story” you are telling yourself – try to distance yourself from it
  • Focus on your breathing – take long, slow, deep breaths
  • Recognise the fight or flight response.
  • Accept uncertainty – allow yourself to stop the struggle

Some suggestions you can try

  • Exercise and movement
  • Meditation
  • Breathing exercises
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Spend time in nature
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Laugh and have fun
  • Massage
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki

Just 15 minutes a day, focussing on yourself, will help you regain a sense of balance.

The more you practice all these strategies, the better you will become!

At Creating Wellness we offer many therapies that can help with the effects of uncertainty.

Why not book in for a treatment or a hypnotherapy session.

If you would like to join us for a group stress busting session or meditation session please contact us.

Why not come with a group of friends and share the experience?