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Living With Worry And Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainty

This free guide was published in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic and is designed for anyone experiencing anxiety or worry. In times of uncertainty, it is helpful to distinguish between worry that is adaptive and worry that is maladaptive. Psychologists often differentiate between worries concerning ‘real problems’ and those concerning ‘hypothetical problems’. Real problem worries are about things which require solutions and, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, can lead to helpful behaviors such as regular handwashing or social distancing. Whereas, hypothetical worries are about things which might happen and can lead to catastrophizing about worst-case scenarios, such as the death of loved ones. This guide provides psychoeducation about the different types of worry and introduces clients to skills such as worry postponement and challenging worrisome thoughts with compassion.

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A free psychoeducational guide. Typically containing elements of skills development.


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Introduction & Theoretical Background

This guide frames worry and anxiety as normal responses to threatening situations:

Anything can be a trigger for worry. Even when things go right, you might manage to think to yourself “but what if it all falls apart?”. There are particular situations where worry becomes even more common, though. Strong triggers for worry are situations that are:

  • Ambiguous – open to different interpretations.
  • Novel and new – so we don’t have any experience to fall back on.
  • Unpredictable – unclear how things will turn out.

Does any of this sound familiar at the moment? The current worldwide health situation ticks all of these boxes, and so it makes sense that people are experiencing a lot of worry. It is an unusual situation with much uncertainty, which can naturally lead us to worry and feel anxious.

As well as providing important information about anxiety and worry, it guides the reader through a selection of skills-development exercises:

  • Maintain a balance in your life.
  • Practice identifying whether your worry is ‘real problem’ worry, or ‘hypothetical worry’.
  • Practice postponing your worry.
  • Speak to yourself with compassion.
  • Practice mindfulness.

Therapist Guidance

"Once you have read the information, feel free to try the exercises if you think they might be helpful to you. It's natural to struggle when times are uncertain, so remember to offer care and compassion to yourself, and to those around you."

References And Further Reading

Whalley, M. G., Kaur, H. (2020). Living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty. Retrieved from: living-with-worry-and-anxiety-amidst-global-uncertainty