Many people avoid stress proactively by living in a predictable routine. They wake up, go to work, see some friends, and wind down for the day. Living this way gives us a sense of control over our own lives and minimizes the amount of anxiety we risk.

If anything is going to force millions of people to change their routines, it’s a global pandemic.

COVID-19 took many things from us—the people we love, the jobs we rely on, the activities that energize us, and more. You may feel vulnerable and stressed now more than ever before. You may even hesitate to integrate old habits back into your life out of fear of losing them again.

Fret not—while we can’t stop unexpected events from happening, we can manage the stress they bring to our lives. Here are four ways to manage stress in an ever-uncertain world.

1. Limit How Often You Consume the News 

You can convince yourself that keeping up with the news makes you “well-informed”, but the truth is that it also makes you pretty depressed. While we live in a globalized world, most of our day-to-day life is affected by the things directly around us.

Your day is more likely to be thrown off by your child getting sick and needing someone to stay home with them than it is by the opinion of a politician on the other side of the world.

Yes, it’s absolutely important to stay connected with the rest of humanity. However, knowing every little detail about major events that happen every single day is information overload. Clear your head by clearing your feed and setting personal boundaries on how often you take in the news.

2. Focus on What You Can Control

Sometimes, our brains imagine the worst-case scenario before we get the chance to catch ourselves. That’s okay! The important thing is not to ruminate on it.

Instead, focus on what you can control. Ritualize the minor parts of your everyday life. Plan your outfit before going to bed, engage in weekly meal-planning, come up with an exercise routine, and get into a TV show that gives you something to look forward to.

Self-care doesn’t have to be as luxurious as Instagram sometimes makes it look. It can be as simple as prioritizing a diet that fuels you, planning activities that relax you, and cutting back on obligations that prevent you from getting enough sleep or time with those you love.

3. Be Patient with Yourself

Studies show that not everyone sees uncertainty the same way. Some people become inspired by the “challenge”, while others are fearful of the unknown.

If you’re in the latter half, you may struggle with negative thoughts, excessive anxiety, and irritable moods. These are totally normal responses to living through chaos, so there’s no reason to blame yourself.

Instead, try reflecting on the worst days in your life before this. The times you blanked on stage, tripped in the hallway, or ran out of gas on the highway. Remind yourself, “I got through hard times before, I can get through hard times again.”

4. Ask For Help (Even Before You Need It)

Let’s be honest: some of us are isolators. Things go wrong and without a second thought, we stop checking our emails, cancel all upcoming events, and curl up into bed for a couple of weeks.

While some people see asking for help as a sign of weakness, it’s actually a sign of love, humility, and strength. It shows your loved ones that you trust and respect them enough to influence your life for the better.

Where your support network fails, a therapist can step in. Some thoughts just feel too personal to talk about with friends. Therapists can help you identify harmful thinking patterns and repetitive behaviors that limit your ability to bounce back from stress.

Looking to get started? Schedule your first appointment with me today.