I am freaking out about graduating in May. For a long time my time has been spent as a student and now that’s going to change. I’ve been diligent about going to career fairs and networking with people, but I get so stressed out thinking about how I don’t have a job lined up. Any suggestions on how to cope with this time of life?
Dear Freaking Out!
There are two main strategies for learning how to accept uncertainty and reduce worry:
1. Challenging Intolerance of Uncertainty
• Is the need for everything to be certain really possible?
• What might be the positive side of the period of uncertainty?
• Are there any situations where uncertainty is tolerable?
2. Acceptance and Mindfulneses
Thoughts about uncertainty often lead us to think about the future. Since we’ve discussed how being future-oriented often comes with worry, perhaps there’s a different way of dealing with thoughts about uncertainty. The practice of mindfulness encourages us to be more present focused and accepting of the current experience. Here are three steps to follow:
• Awareness: notice what you are currently thinking and what you are feeling in your body. Acknowledge the presence of thoughts and feelings. What are you noticing about your reaction when you are needing certainty?
• Letting Go: times of uncertainty come and go and so do thoughts about uncertainty. Imagine your thoughts floating down a river; as one thought passes, another comes along, but over time that thought passes too.
• Non-judgmental: notice your thoughts without judging them or trying to change them. Thoughts are difficult to control, but you can control your reaction to the thoughts. Return your focus to your present experience. If you’re having trouble being non-judgmental, focus on your breath as air flows in and out of your body, sounds around you, body sensations, or the task at hand to bring you back into the present moment.
There is no way to prevent uncertainty from occurring in your life. Especially in this situation, remind yourself that you are doing your best at this moment and when you need to take a different course of action, you will. Remind yourself about the importance of challenging the intolerance of uncertainty and introducing acceptance and mindfulness. Hopefully, you will feel more capable to handle the uncertainty in your life.
If you are still struggling and would like to talk to a counselor, please contact Counseling Services at 312-369-8700 to schedule an appointment, or visit the office located at 731 S. Plymouth Ct. If you would like more information about practicing acceptance and mindfulness in your life, we recommend Wherever You Go, There You Are and Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Information retrieved from: www.cci.health.wa.gov.au.