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#mindfulness #anxietyrelief #copingskills
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20 Strategies for Coping with an Uncertain Future
Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes PhD, LPC-MHSP, LMHC, CIBHP
AllCEUs Counselor Education
What is Uncertainty
 Uncertainty can make people feel unsafe which triggers the HPA-Axis and results in anxiety, anger and depression (waiting for a job call back, acceptance letter, surgery to be over or when our world is turned upside down due to job loss, breakup, pandemic, medical diagnosis, pregnancy)
 This can result in results in behaviors that are maladaptive attempts to reduce uncertainty, such as worry, reassurance seeking, checking, and hypervigilance

Uncertainty and Stress
 Remember that the stress response is your body’s smoke alarm. It tells you that, based on your prior experiences and beliefs, there might be a problem, and gives you energy to assess the situation to determine if there is an actual threat in the present moment.
 When the stress response is triggered it has a multitude of PACER effects.

 Challenge your Musts
 I must have a clear and certain direction at all times.
 Why? Who says? Children don’t. Adolescents often don’t. What is wrong with experimenting.
 What are the advantages and disadvantages to certainty?
 What are you absolutely certain about in life?
 What is the probability that an uncertain outcome means tragedy?

 Challenge your Musts
 I must be in a relationship
 Why? Who says?
 What else could you do? Get to know you? Focus on friendships? Causal dating?
 What is your catastrophic self saying?
 I must immediately get another forever job
 Why? Who says?
 What is your catastrophic self saying? FCP.
 What else could you do? Go back to school? Get a short-term job to try out a new field?

 Challenge your Musts
 I had always envisioned it this way and I must achieve that vision
 Why? Who says?
 What is your catastrophic self saying? FCP.
 What else could you do? Go back to school? Get a short-term job to try out a new field?

 Maintain CNS (circadian rhythms, nutrition, sleep)
 Use guided imagery and progressive muscular relaxation to trigger the relaxation response
 Identify and mitigate your uncertainty triggers (Stay away from Chicken Little and use fact-based reasoning)
 Recognize the connection between trauma triggers and uncertainty
 Breathe (Dragon breath, bubbles or guided imagery)

 Practice mindfulness to get grounded and focused
 I cannot predict the future but what is happening now?
 Practice self compassion (and stop shoulding)
 Allow yourself to feel the uncertainty and embrace tragic optimism
 Plan for uncertainty (what do you need to do to ensure continued safety?)
 Identify and allow yourself to grieve the (actual not the anticipated) losses
 Envision your rich and meaningful life to identify where to direct your energies
 Develop Hardiness (Commitment, Control, Challenge)
 Write the next season/chapter. I no longer have X, what can I learn from this experience? Do I need to immediately replace it? How will this change my concept of X in the future?
 Focus on what you do know and can control
 Know you are probably not seeing every option
 Develop a plan B (and C if needed) to reassure yourself that you are safe
 Reflect on your strength and creativity
 TAGS: Distress Tolerance to help you wait
 Develop an abundance mentality
 Use distress tolerant thoughts
 Develop hardiness
 Live in the and
 Develop a resilience circle

 Uncertainty in life is inevitable.
 Uncertainty can trigger anxiety based on your schemas about lack of clarity.
 Developing a new relationship with uncertainty and awareness of your needs can help you cope when you have to wait on something or your life suddenly changes.

Video by Dr. Dawn Elise Snipes on integrative behavioral health approaches including counseling techniques and skills for improving mental health and reducing mental illness.

AllCEUs provides multimedia counselor education and CEUs for LPCs, LMHCs, LMFTs and LCSWs as well as addiction counselor precertification training and continuing education. AllCEUs courses for counselor continuing education are accepted in most states because we are an approved education provider for NAADAC, the State Boards of Social Work and Mental Health/Professional CCAPP