For many, the stress of not knowing how a situation will develop can feel very intense. However, according to Dr. Alexandra H. Solomon, a licensed clinical psychologist and professor at Northwestern University, that discomfort of being thrown out of your day-to-day norm is actually a very common, normal, and expected human experience.
"We are creatures of habit, relying on routines to provide us with a sense of order and calm," Dr. Solomon said.
"One of the drivers of today's anxiety is the uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow or next week. This is especially true of the global pandemic because the situation is so rapidly evolving," she said. "While we need to be planful, we also need to quiet our anxiety by returning our attention to the present moment." Ahead, Dr. Solomon shared some helpful tips on dealing with the stress of the unknown.
Establish a Routine
Dr. Solomon said that focusing on what you can control can be helpful because "it gives us a cushion of calm that helps us cope with the things we cannot control."
If you are now in a situation of working from home, Dr. Solomon suggested creating and following a daily routine and schedule.
Perhaps you wake up at 7 a.m. and then flow through a yoga sequence before showering and getting to work. She also suggested having a space in your home where you do work, and taking breaks to go for a walk if you can.
"For those who are attempting to work from home with kids who are attempting to learn from home, try to accept the imperfect nature of the situation," she added.
Keep Healthy Habits
Be sure to practice healthy habits, Dr. Solomon said. Some examples include getting enough sleep, eating healthy, nourishing foods, getting fresh air when you are able, and exercising.
Daily meditation could be very beneficial in dealing with the stress of the unknown. Dr. Solomon pointed to apps like Calm or Simple Habit to aid you in your practice.
Check in With Friends and Family
"Connect with your crew — social distancing doesn't have to mean social isolation," Dr. Solomon said. "Take advantage of technology and connect with friends by phone or FaceTime. Social connection is good for our bodies and our souls!"
While Dr. Solomon said it's very important to stay informed and read up on developments from reliable news sources, unplugging is also essential. "Strive for a sweet spot between informed and flooded," she said.