The Uncertainty of the Covid Crisis: Strategically reducing controllable risks

The most disturbing aspect of the COVID crisis for the majority of people is the uncertainty and uncontrollability of what is now considered to be the biggest international emergency since World War 2. We will all be faced with a choice concerning how we we can think about this in a way that determines how we respond to the ever growing predicaments that the crisis presents to us.


Choice A or Choice B

If we consider Intolerance of Uncertainty as being the fuel for worry and anxiety the question then becomes: What can we do about this?

Lets consider our options in how we can all think about this:


Choice A- Increase our certainty

Choice B- Increase our tolerance of uncertainty.


In order to reduce our worry and anxiety we can either do one of the above. Lets break down Intolerance of Uncertainty into its two component parts. Intolerance and Uncertainty.



Intolerance of Uncertainty


Increase Tolerance



Increase Certainty



How to implement Choice B during COVID-19


  • Change the instruction you give to yourself when you have worries about possible future unpleasent outcomes. “ I CAN think about these things now, BUT I can think about other things too, like how I can be creative today and what I can do to have enjoyment in the day”

  • Give yourself a ‘WORRY TIME’ for 10 minustes during the day where you can let yourself worry about everything that concerns you. When the 10 minutes are complete apply the above self instruction. This can give you flexible control over your response to the uncertainty.

  • Distinguish between CARING and WORRYING. We can all care for each other without getting anxious and worrying which will just make us feel worse.

  • Ask yourself the following question? Do I know anybody who cares about others through this crisis without neccesarily worrying about them.

  • Worry is a THOUGHT PROCESS, let them come and go and see your worries as irrelevant events of the mind.








Those who care for themselves and others without worrying about the uncertainties of the crisis are simply more equiped psychologically to distinguish what is POSSIBLE from what is more PLAUSIBLE or UNLIKELY. We can imagine anything at anytime, but learning to develop intolerance of uncertainty involves reducing controllable risks. We cannot eliminate all controllable risks as this is impossible. We can simply take daily precautions and calculated risks that can help keep us safe and care for ourselves without the pain of worry and anxiety. By learning to tolerate uncertainty we simply build our resilience to being PRUDENT. This does mean that you are being asked to be a polyanish careless person. Its learning to use worry more flexibly throughout this crisis to know what we can control and what we have no power over.

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