F Stress. How to Cope With Stress and Uncertainty
Humans are creatures of habit. When things are going how we plan, we feel in control and ready to take on anything. When things go off the rails, we might start feeling stressed out. What’s next? What happens now? What else may go wrong?!
Today we’re saying F stress and diving into how to cope with stress and uncertainty with a few techniques and lifestyle changes that may work for you.
What’s the Difference Between Stress and Anxiety?
Before we get into how to cope with stress and ways for dealing with uncertainty (the most common cause of anxiety), it’s important to understand the difference between them. Understanding this difference can help you figure out ways that may help you through them both.
There’s a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both of them are emotional responses that may respond to similar coping techniques. So what’s the difference between stress and anxiety?
The simplest way to think about what makes them different is that stress is usually caused from an outside source or trigger whereas anxiety and uncertainty are characterized by thoughts and worries that continue sometimes even without a stressor.
What Causes Stress?
Learning how to cope with stress starts by being able to identify stressors. Think about a time when you’ve had a work deadline hanging over your head or maybe you’ve had an argument with a friend and you’re replaying it over in your mind and it’s putting you on edge. Those are the kinds of external triggers that cause stress.
Your Brain *Knows* How to Handle Stress
Thankfully, your brain knows how to handle stress (good brain 🧠).
Our brain takes in what we’re experiencing and also recalls memories of how we felt in similar positions before then processes that information to determine whether or not a situation is stressful. This is often called the stress response.
Which part of the brain activates the stress response?
That would be the hypothalamus. If your brain decides a situation is stressful, the hypothalamus kicks into gear and sends alerts to the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland. These short term responses raise cortisol levels in your body (a natural hormone that contributes to Fight or Flight instincts). If you’re experiencing long-term stress, that is handled by the Hypothalamic Pituitary-Adrenal System (HPA).
Learning How to Cope With Stress
Part of taking care of yourself is learning how to cope with stress and find ways to help reduce it. There are lots of positive ways to cope with stress like:
- Making sure you have a good work/life balance
- Exercising regularly
- Eating a healthy diet
- Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake
- Connecting with others
- Getting enough sleep
One of the best ways to manage stress, though, is by beginning a daily ritual. Daily self care rituals help you manage the stress in your life while you take the time to relax, recharge, and re-energize your mind and body.
For example, you may consider trying CBD and meditation as a way to potentially reduce stress and anxiety. Meditation has been shown to help reduce stress and can be done anywhere at any time while the potential benefits of CBD may help enhance your experience.
You could also try keeping a daily guided journal to organize your thoughts and focus on positive ways to cope with stress.
Another important thing to consider when learning how to cope with stress and uncertainty is to avoid guilt. Sometimes our mindset when experiencing stress might make us feel guilty for not living up to a standard we’ve set for ourselves or one we feel others have set for us.
Guilt and stress don’t go well together, so try to focus on positive ways to cope with stress while acknowledging that you’re doing your best.
This is your loving, friendly reminder to stop the guilt. You are awesome. You're dong amazing. Sometimes just getting through the day is enough. :)
Why We’re Afraid of Uncertainty
Our brains are constantly trying to make sense of the world we live in.
This means it’s working nonstop behind the scenes to create subconscious “rules” for what our normal is. When things differ from that normal -- whether it’s something we’re experiencing now or something we think may happen -- those rules are broken and our brains scramble to make sense of the new situation.
This break from the “normal” is why we’re afraid of uncertainty. Uncertainty is really your brain’s response to trying to quickly make assumptions and predictions on how something will work out when it’s not going according to how we expected (or when we’re worried it may not).
Next up let’s take a look at how to deal with uncertainty.
Dealing With Uncertainty
Where stress comes from an outside source, anxiety (or uncertainty) is caused by thoughts and feelings that come from within ourselves without an external catalyst. Sometimes our anxieties can lead to an overactive mind that always feels “busy.”
Symptoms of anxiety or uncertainty are often similar to symptoms of stress, which is why it’s important to understand the difference between the two. Knowing which one is affecting you is the first step to learning how to cope with stress and uncertainty.
Take Action on Things You Can Control
One potentially effective way for dealing with uncertainty is learning to take action over the things you can control. When you’re feeling in control of a situation, even if it’s only part of the situation, it helps alleviate uncertainty and anxiety. Feeling like you have taken action for the part you can control gives you a sense of direct control over the outcome, which takes away the uncertainty factor.
Finding ways to challenge your feelings of uncertainty is another method for how to handle stress and anxiety. Instead of procrastinating in order to avoid having to make a choice with an uncertain outcome (we’ve all been guilty of this at one time or another 🙋♀️), take action to think about possible outcomes and how to get to the one you want.
Focus on the Present
Dealing with uncertainty is also easier when you focus on the present.
Instead of allowing your thoughts to run off into what may happen or what might have been, focus on the here and now. Being connected to the present can help stop the downward spiral of negative thoughts for uncertainty about the future.
Stress sucks. We hope we’ve helped you start to learn how to cope with stress and uncertainty with new ideas to try. Remember to focus your mind, take control of what you can, make some healthy lifestyle choices, and consider making adjustments to your daily rituals to support a calmer mind.
If you continue to struggle with feelings of stress and uncertainty, please lean on healthcare professionals who can provide expert help to help you get a handle on it.
Curious about CBD and its uses? Check out our guides to help you understand more on the potential benefits of CBD for your lifestyle: