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25 Different Ways to Cope With Uncertainty

Photo: Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Even when the future is up in the air, there’s growth to be found in the present: Finding sustainable ways to feel okay in the face of uncertainty is its own form of personal development.

These 25 stories provide advice on how to do just that. Some offer new ways to see the world or the passage of time or your place in both. Others offer things to do today, things to stop doing, questions to ask yourself, mantras, and mental frameworks.

This isn’t meant to be a checklist; pick out what you find helpful and leave the rest. And over the uncertain days to come, remember: It’s possible to be gentle with yourself while still being engaged. In fact, right now, both are vital.

Plan for your real life after the election, whatever happens

Anchor yourself by accounting for small, boring details, like your grocery list and laundry schedule.

Use the “circle of concern” to reframe your fears in uncertain times

The more mental energy you spend on things you can’t control, the less you have to change the things you can.

Ask: What action can I take in this moment?

Reorient yourself for life in the “eternal now.”

Plan who you’ll be after this

When you can’t create a definitive future, audit your priorities to create your future self.

Make the plan even if you know it won’t happen

The act of planning itself can help you relax, regardless of whether that plan comes to fruition.

Find someone who needs help, and give it to them

The real way to find meaning in an unplannable life.

Edit your perspective

Life is always strange, and the strangeness of right now is a question of degree, not of kind.

Recognize that anxiety is normal

Don’t compound your stress by beating yourself up for having entirely normal feelings.

Don’t try to fix anything right now

Notice when you fall into the mental trap of believing you can problem-solve your way out of a crisis that’s much bigger than you.

Get into a hobby

Control freaks are having a moment.

Control your controlling behaviors

Assuming responsibility for other people’s choices won’t make you feel better in the long run.

Learn to live in limbo

The goal isn’t to move past discomfort; it’s to learn to sit with it.

Learn how to be productively lost

An impasse without clear direction is the place where radical new ideas take shape.

Don’t doom scroll!

Schedule an offline activity to create a barrier between yourself and the deluge of news.

Seriously, stop doom scrolling

It’s not your civic duty to drink from the information firehose.

Use the scientific method

Form a hypothesis about how to feel better, test it, and use your conclusions to figure out your next move.

Find stillness

Go for a walk and look for beauty on your route.

Make daily life slightly more doable

Find ways to focus on your physical comfort, like adjusting the height of your laptop or taking regular stretch breaks.

Meet your needs through “self-leadership”

Picture the most competent leader you know, then ask: If this person were leading me through my day, what would it look like?

Ask: How would I like to be responsible for myself today?

There’s a price to pay for emotional validation.

Think of the passage of time as an upward spiral

We cycle between good times and bad, which means we have plenty of opportunities to learn and improve.

Increase your hope

A science-backed way to feel more hopeful: For every hypothetical situation you worry about, come up with an if-then plan (as in, if x happens, you’ll do y).

Check your negativity bias

Make it a point to notice the moments when you’re not unhappy.

Get better at waiting

When you can notice and identify your emotions, you gain more control over them.

You don’t control what happens, so control how you respond

A mantra to repeat again and again.



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