Coping with the Emotional Roller Coaster of Uncertainty


How do you cope with work pressures when the world as you know it suddenly changes? How do you respond when your work, health, finances, family, and friends… are suddenly in turmoil? You didn’t ask for these changes – and it’s not feeling good.

I want to make this conversation personal because it’s about me, you, and everyone we know. At this time we want to – and must – support our teams, patients, family, and friends who feel stressed and overwhelmed. Yet we also struggle with our own emotional rollercoaster. So, start with this: It’s okay to feel everything you’re feeling right now. Know that we are all affected and feel deeply. While there is comfort in our shared experience, this moment is uniquely challenging because everyone reacts to change in different ways and at different times.

We may not be able to stop the roller coaster, but we can take steps to make the ride calmer. The first step is to is to recognize your own emotions based on what you are experiencing.

Explore below, common reactions to sudden changes caused by crisis:

  • This can’t be as bad as what they say… 
  • Whatever data they are showing, doesn’t reflect the situation in my country/state/town/community/company.
  • I don’t want to hear one more time that I should be washing my hands…
  • This will be over before we know it.
  • What happens if I get sick?
  • What if I lose my job/my company/my savings?
  • I can’t be with my family right now – and what if they get sick?
  • I’m scared that I won’t be able to take care of my family.
  • When will this end… how bad will it get?
  • Why is this happening to me? 
  • They (bosses, government, authorities) are overreacting!
  • No one has the right to keep me away from my friends and family!
  • I can’t stand all the noise around me – can’t you (kids/partner) just chill?
  • People are stupid and inconsiderate.
  • I just want to scream!
  • If we all pull together, we can get through this…
  • If we did this, we could… (ideas for how to cope with current limitations)
  • I have to do this, no that first, and also that… (seeing a path, but trouble focusing)
  • Maybe I should call one of my colleagues and see how they are coping with this.
  • Who can help me?
  • I can’t control what the world does, but I can do my part.
  • Let’s make plans for how we deal with…
  • While I am at home, I think I will… (whatever home project calls you) 
  • My daily routine is different now, but I can still take care of my body/brain by…
  • I am creating my own “sacred space and time” …
Our current situation makes it hard to escape the emotional roller coaster including at work. The constant stressors in our lives are both direct (changes to work, lifestyle, health, finance, family) and in-direct (daily news, social media, friends experiences), and even a small trigger can cause a strong negative reaction. When we react “in the moment”,  we stand the risk of letting our emotions hijack the situation, losing our ability to think through consequences of words and actions.
Learning to recognize our triggers and feelings, helps us be in charge of our responses to crisis and stress, and build trust and support within our teams at work. 
  • Take a deep breath. Observe what is going on inside your body and mind.
  • This allows you to respond instead of react… 
  • If you’re on a video call with your colleagues, ask for a break, or reschedule for later.
  • Allow yourself time and space to reflect with self-compassion.
  • Reach out to others for connection and guidance. 
  • Ask for support if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work.
We can’t always stop the ride, but we can control how we respond. By gaining emotional control, we build trust and support in this chaotic time.

Do you know someone who might find our blog useful?

Share it with them now!


©2023, Action for Results, Inc. All Rights Reserved