Coping with Uncertainty During Government Shutdowns

Page updated on Jan 25, 2019 at 5:14 PM

Coping with Uncertainty During Government Shutdowns


Here are effective ways to cope with stress and uncertainty under any circumstances:

  • Exercise to increase dopamine and reduce feelings of stress.
  • Walk in the park or in natural settings. If there is no park, a good and vigorous walk around the block a few times also feels good. Walking is just as good as jogging.
  • Practice yoga and meditation. Mindful meditation teaches how to fully accept emotions that are experienced and live in the moment. It has been found that both practices, which are often used together, reduce blood pressure, increase all around physical health and reduce stress.
  • Learn and use deep breathing and deep relaxation techniques to reduce stress particularly since anxiety often results in shallow breathing and, as a result, increasing anxiety. How to do this can be found online by searching “stress reduction techniques or relaxation techniques.”
  • Stay connected and talk with others as an adaptive way to cope with life’s difficulties. There are lots of benefits that come from talking with friends and family including getting their support and understanding. Do not self-isolate.
  • Keep busy and try to have a routine. Some people have hobbies, and others may have more time to spend with their kids. Socialize, volunteer, have a potluck. Make a list of things to do each day and set reasonable priorities. Do not sit home and watch the news. 
  • Search the web for businesses across the DMV offering employees on furlough free or discounted goods, services and activities or entertainment.
  • Stay healthy by eating well, avoiding alcohol and other drugs and getting plenty of sleep.
  • Watch funny movies and TV programs and laugh as much as possible to lighten the mood. Listen to music, sing, dance.
  • Keep in mind and even make lists of all the things you have to feel grateful about. Using affirmations also helps. Keep them posted on the refrigerator.
  • Refrain from catastrophic thinking that says, “all is terrible and will never be good again” or other variations of this. Think positively and surround yourself with others who do so. Focus on your strengths and abilities, and those of your family and community. It’s good to let yourself cry when needed.
  • Be mindful of your behavior around and toward your children. Encourage them to express their feelings through drawing or playing. Give honest answers to their questions at a level they can understand. Maintain routines as much as possible and reassure them.
  • Try not to judge yourself and others. Remember that people react in different ways. Ask for help if it gets to be too much.

If you are in crisis and need to talk to someone, call 24/7: 

  • CrisisLink Hotline: 703.527.4077 or Text "connect" to 855-11. For TTY, dial 711.
  • Department of Community & Human Services Emergency Services: 703.746.3401

Resources for Those Impacted by the Government Shutdown

Learn about resources available to assist those impacted by the shutdown.

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