Coping with Uncertainty

Manage what you can in uncertain times: mental and physical health

Feelings of anxiety and stress are a normal and necessary response when faced with uncertainty or challenges. One of the best ways to manage anxiety and stress during times of uncertainty, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, is to focus on what’s within your control. You are not alone. See below for steps you can take today to improve your mental health, which will contribute to your physical health.

Normal reactions to stressful times

Check your own reactions and recognize them as normal reactions.

  • Feeling fatigued or more tired than usual
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased irritability
  • Body aches or headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating/focusing
  • Appetite changes, especially loss of appetite
  • Difficulty communicating well with others

Tips for managing what you can

Get enough sleep:  Stick to a bedtime schedule. Turn off electronics 30 to 60 minutes before bed and try to relax by meditation or dimming the lights.

Connect with family and friends:  Keep physical distance but find ways to stay connected through video chats, texting, phone calls or a surprise drop-off of goodies.

Limit news and social media:  It’s okay to stop or take a break from watching or reading news if you are feeling more anxious than informed.

Limit alcohol and drug intake:  Limit yourself to two drinks per day. Avoid alcohol and drugs to make yourself feel relaxed and instead explore other activities that help you de-stress.

Eat healthy:  Avoid snacking on sugary or fried foods. Try to keep your portions balanced.

Plan activities:  Make plans for safe, fun activities such as starting a hobby or going for a walk or drive.

Stick to a schedule: Continue to eat, sleep, take your medications and complete daily tasks at the same time each day.

Help others:  Help a family member or friend with a surprise such as dropping off a meal, note or groceries.

Move your body:  Schedule at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.

Helpful resources for improving your mental health


  • Michigan Community Mental Health: 800.749.7720
  • Call 211 for Resources


  • Insight Timer* – Use to help fall asleep or for meditations to feel calmer.
  • CBT-i Coach* – Use to help with insomnia.
  • PTSD Coach* – Provides action steps to help with anxiety and depression.
  • What’s Up?* – Provides tips for coping skills.
  • Headspace – Helps with meditation, sleep solutions, exercise ideas and more.


  • – Resources for adults, children and specific communities on coping with effects of COVID-19.

Spectrum Health resources

  • COVID-19 behavioral health support line: 833.734.0013
  • Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine: 616.267.2830
  • Outpatient psychiatry and behavioral medicine: 616.447.5820
  • – COVID-19 resources and patient resources, including behavioral health resources for mental health, stress, anxiety and depression.

*Free in your App Store.