The Psychological Effects of Uncertainty …and how to Cope
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Uncertainty is the “fear of the unknown [and] fear of change, ” explains Dr. Betsy St. Pierre, a counselor and Psychologist professor. For many people, uncertainty puts them in a state of confusion causing them to feel out of control. This feeling usually leads to anxiety or stress. Some behaviors of stress and anxiety could included fidgety behavior, inability to make decisions, lack of focus, shutting down, and acting out, explains Dr. St. Pierre. Extreme levels of anxiety can lead to insomnia which can detrimentally affect functioning in the work and home environment. Anxiety can also sometimes lead to a depression-like state if a person feels out of control. This can cause individuals to shut down making them unmotivated in their daily lives. St. Pierre explains that generally this is not true depression, it mostly mimics the symptoms of depression.
Who it Affects:
Stress and anxiety caused by uncertainty can affect anyone. In the different stages of life, the psychological effects show up in different ways. If children grow up in unstable, uncertain environment, they can grow up to be distrusting and fearful. St. Pierre explains that they can also aim to do the opposite striving for a perfect family situation, which is often times unattainable. Preteens and teens often suffer from anxiety during puberty. Dr.St. Pierre explains that a lot of young females result to eating disorders because they feel like the only thing they have control over is their physical appearance.
While students in the midst of college suffer with the anxiety of life choices, goal-setting after college causes anxiety because most think they have to have everything figured out. St. Pierre explains that if these uncertain people have a mentor to tell them its okay not to have it figured out, it can alleviate some of their stress. Another stage in life, parenting, causes anxiety because of the fear of not making the right decisions for one’s children. Many adults suffer from empty nest syndrome after their children leave the house, as well.
Is it Normal?
Anxiety is healthy at certain levels. “It is a defense mechanism,” explains St. Pierre, “it is a tool to keep you safe.”When anxiety stops your daily life and makes you stop functioning, that is when it can be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder.
Signals and Coping Mechanisms
Three individuals including Dr. Betsy St. Pierre, Rebecca Allums, R.N., and Licensed Nutritionist Brigett Scott explain how they know exactly when they become stressed or anxious. They also elaborate on their personal coping mechanisms in dealing with the effects of uncertainty.
St. Pierre suggests counseling, reading, exercising, meditation, and keeping busy to help combat the struggle. For immediate help, she recommends breathing exercises like taking ten deep breaths to help lower your heart rate. In regards to what really helps, she said, “To accept that you are not control of everything.”
The Healthy Side of Coping
Enjoy this video comprised of a recipe for an orange berry smoothie. With the help of Brigett Scott, I will explain why the ingredients I chose are great to combat stress.