We feel insecure, something normal due to everything that has been happening in our lives for a year. We have always been educated in routines, in planning and in organization, but many things are not going to be as we planned them to be. Planning and structuring our daily lives to move towards certain goals gave us security, and now we don’t know that future.
Now we have to learn to live day by day, in the present. Therefore, it is time to do mental health prevention, to learn to work in the here and now: currently we have a lack of control over our plans and habits, and that generates insecurity and anxiety.
When there is some aspect of our lives in which we feel that we do not control almost anything that happens to us, we are presented with several options; We resign ourselves, we fight or we accept that we are not in control. We must see uncertainty as something normal, not fight to face it. And poor management of uncertainty leads to high levels of physiological activation.
- Related article: “Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics”
How to mitigate anxiety problems and adapt to uncertainty?
Great changes like the one we are experiencing in times of COVID-19 make us increase our tolerance for uncertainty. It is a learning and a training. We have cognitive biases, limiting beliefs, habits and mental patterns that make it difficult for us to cope with these changes, but we can learn to manage all of that.
1. Learn to identify thoughts that lead to nothing
Anticipating the future in a negative way is unproductive, since it does not lead us to any concrete and consistently developed action.; We block ourselves and waste energy. Therefore, train your mind every day to identify those catastrophic thoughts, and let them go, let them flow and not influence you. Don’t get “hooked” on that emotion of uncertainty and fear.
2. Get used to a certain level of uncertainty
When you feel irrational fear of situations in the future, you are irritable, you get angry, you feel nervous because you do not control the situation… we must accept that there are things that do not depend on us. In this sense, it is important to train your mind to be more flexible. Living in the “what ifs?” It doesn’t get you anywhere, we can’t predict the futurewhat is going to happen or not and even less things that do not depend on us.
3. Contrast your pessimistic predictions with reality
When you write down what you think, your fears and worries, over time you will realize that they have not happened.. Only a very small percentage will be real. 90% of the things that worry us never ever happen, but our mind and body experience them as real: “What if something happens to me? What if I fail? What if at work they tell me…?” You are continually generating a state of alert by secreting cortisol (the stress hormone), and that state of constant threat wears you down psychologically.
Your body is activated, you are on continuous alert and your body is suffering. Thinking about a catastrophic future alters our internal state, and when we constantly think about situations that worry us, it has the same impact as if it really happened.
4. Don’t get obsessed with trying to block negative thoughts about the future
It is important to always understand that the appearance of your thoughts is not something we can control. Negative thoughts are automatic, they come to us on their own depending on the situation that is happening to us. It is a way that our brain has to protect us from threats, a way of survival that comes to us from thousands of years ago.
You cannot control this appearance of anxious thoughts, but Yes, it depends on you how you interpret the situation and the thoughts that have been generated., that is, the importance you are giving it. If you start to analyze the situation, thoughts begin to trigger and you enter into an internal self-dialogue from which it is very difficult to escape.
So when you have intrusive thoughts, don’t obsess about making them go away, because that will make them more intense. Avoid giving them more importance than they have, do not feed those thoughts more, do not pay them the attention that you were used to giving them. Continue with the behavior you were doing, ignoring what is going through your mind, do something that has nothing to do with those thoughts. In these cases Behavior should direct your thoughts, not the other way around..
Remember that they are just thoughts, they are just words, sounds in your mind, which do not necessarily have to do with reality… They are unpleasant, but not serious. Keep a clear mind and they alone will reduce in frequency and intensity.
You have to learn to accept things as they come, not fight against them; That will help reduce your stress. Psychological flexibility is one of the best capabilities and skills we can develop. The key is to accept being with the experience that comes to us, not reject it, and distance ourselves from the thoughts that are generated in that situation. The more mental rigidity, the more vulnerable we will be to developing anxiety, the fewer resources we will have to deal with stressful situations. Going from thinking that life is a problem to be solved to thinking that life is a path that must be lived is something that changes things a lot.