Coping with change and uncertainty


Change and uncertainty can make us feel anxious, fearful, frustrated and even angry - these are normal and natural responses to have. Evidence suggests that accepting change and uncertainty and our emotional responses to these, is one of the most effective ways to support our wellbeing. Take a look at the accepting change drop-down below for strategies to support you in doing this.

Change and uncertainty can also directly impact various aspects of life, including routine, mindset, our home environment, eating habits and our sleep pattern. For resources to support you in each of these areas, take a look at the drop-downs below. 


Change and uncertainty can impact our:

Changes in living situations can cause difficulties. We might experience difficulties living in a busy household, or notice feelings of isolation. The following resources can help, whatever situation you find yourself in.

  • Feeling isolated infographic - this will give you some ideas of how to stay connected with loved ones and friends if you are experiencing feelings of isolation.
  • Connect webpage - this will give you ideas of how to stay connected with others whatever home situation you are experiencing at the moment.

The University staying safe page has information about what to do if you need to self-isolate.

Sleep is one of the most important things for staying healthy and supporting our wellbeing. Times of change and uncertainty can lead to interrupted sleep patterns. It can be useful to have some techniques available to you, should your sleep be affected:

  • Sleep planner -  create a helpful wind-down routine using the six ways to wellbeing.
  • Sleep webpage - for even more sleep-related tips visit our dedicated sleep page.

Research shows that changes in eating habits are normal when we experience stress, which can be brought on by change or uncertainity. Eating healthily and staying hydrated are key to our wellbeing. These resources offer tips to help you look after your nutrition.

  • Mindful eating - discover how to practice mindfulness when eating and fully engage your senses.
  • Meal planner - plan healthy balanced meals with space to write down your shopping list.
  • Cooking at home guide - this guide contains tips for how to make your budget stretch further and how to be eco-minded when it comes to food.
  • Nutrition page - for more information and tips about nutrition visit this page.

Having structure and routine in our day can help us navigate periods of uncertainity and change by allowing us to see the things we can control. We have a range of planners that can be used to help structure your day. Use these in conjunction with the activity menu which gives ideas for wellbeing activities you can include in your day. 

  • Daily planner - this planner can be used to integrate the six ways to wellbeing into your daily routine.
  • Weekly planner - structure your week with the help of this planner.
  • Monthly calendar - this calendar has lots of wellbeing tips and ideas for you to try.
  • Activity menu - use this menu for inspiration for the kind of wellbeing activites you can include in your day.

Reactions to change or uncertainity can include feelings of stress, worry and a loss of motivation. This is completely normal and there are things we can do to help relax and build our positivity:

  • Gratitude journal - practicing gratitude encourages positive thinking. Use this journal to record three good things about each day.
  • Savouring journal - take the time to notice and appreciate the good things in life. This helps to encourage a positive mindset.
  • Take notice page - being in the present moment helps us to relax. Our take notice page has lots of resources to support mindfulness and relaxation.

Evidence suggests that accepting change and allowing ourselves to feel certain uncomfortable emotions, can support our wellbeing. Practicing acceptance can be tough, try the following technique to help: 

F: focus on what’s in your control. You are in control of what you do here and now. 

A: acknowledge the thought or emotion when it arises and notice what’s going on in your mind. Give yourself time to let yourself think or feel it.

C: come back to your body. Ground yourself and take some deep breaths whilst continuing to acknowledge your feelings.

E: engage in what you’re doing. Bring yourself back to the task in hand. Notice five things you can see, or three things you can hear. 

Take a look at our video on change and uncertainty for a run-through of this technique. 

Things to remember:

Be kind to yourself: it is always important to be kind to yourself, but it is particularly important to be kind to yourself during times of change and uncertainty. You may find that during these times it is a little more difficult to be motivated and do everything that you want to do, and this okay. Offering yourself kindness and self-compassion will help you to feel better and treat others more kindly too. Try and be patient with yourself and be conscious of your thoughts and self-talk.

Be self-aware: self-awareness will allow you to have a better understanding of yourself, and it can help you to be aware of the external factors that influence you. This is why self-awareness is particularly useful in times of uncertainty and change, as it will allow you to mitigate any external influences and manage the way that they affect you. The more you know about yourself, the better you are at adapting life changes that suit you and your needs.

Reflect on past successes: become your own cheerleader rather than an inner-critic, and remember all of the times that you have adapted to change and coped with uncertainty. The fact that you are here now, means that you have had many past successes that have brought you here. Remembering the times you accomplished your goals and created positive changes, will give you insight into what worked before so that you can apply these techniques again now. 

Seek help if you need it: remember, it is okay not to be okay, and we all need extra help at times. If you are finding these changes and the uncertainty around them particularly difficult, or if you are struggling with anything else, it is really important that you speak to someone else and seek help. All university support services are still available and running remotely, and there is a wealth of online resources that you can access on the Student Support website. 


These videos may be helpful: