Insights and advice for managing uncertainty

May 4, 2020 Swedish Health Team

Coronavirus has brought with it a new level of fear and uncertainty. Being worried is a normal reaction to crisis situations.

Consumers across the world are legitimately worried about their current state as well as their future. They’re worried about getting care for non-coronavirus (COVID-19) chronic conditions. They’re worried about how to keep their jobs, and those that have lost their jobs are trying to find a way to support themselves and their families. They are worried about the wellness and health of themselves, their kids and their aging parents. They are worried for the caregivers who are working on the frontlines trying to save lives.

The threat is real, and while it’s easy to say we’ll get through this together, the worry remains.

Most pandemics follow the same progression from warning of its existence to recovery. The image below showcases the different stages, and the red box indicates our current state in the progression. Consumer concerns tend to evolve alongside the evolution of any given pandemic and COVID-19 is no exception.

Gartner, the world’s leading research and advisory company, conducted a survey to capture insights on consumer fears. The results gathered between March 3-5, 2020, and March 18-20, 2020, demonstrate the evolution of consumers’ concerns around coronavirus as shown in the chart below:

Source: Gartner “Early-April 2020 Update: Marketers, Solve for Consumers’ Most Urgent COVID-19 Fears,” Consumer and Culture Insights Team, 30 March 2020

We believe the findings suggest, over the three weeks in March, consumer concerns evolved from the abstract and moderately urgent to the personal and highly urgent as the virus spread deeper across the United States.

The concerns outlined in the Gartner surveys are now reality. Many aisles, especially the paper products and disinfectant aisles, in grocery stores are bare, local businesses of all types are shuttering their doors, and most communities are on lockdown. The economic impact of COVID-19 is going to be felt for many months – perhaps years – to come.

As we embrace our new normal (which we all hope is temporary) and come to grips with the uncertain realities during the time of COVID-19, it’s important to remember this health crisis won’t last forever. For sure, some of the changes ushered in by COVID-19 are likely to change the fabric of societies the world over, but humans are an innovative lot and we will adapt. We will embrace new modes of working. We will reprioritize how and where we spend our time. We will learn new skills. And, we will learn to connect with each other in new, equally meaningful ways.

On the notion of “normal,” Hayley Quinn, PsyD, Ambulatory Behavioral Health at Swedish, summed it up this way: “There is no normal way to deal with what’s happening. This has really never happened in our lifetime. To have a global shutdown…to have all our students out of school for an indefinite period of time. In this event, we can’t come together in the same ways we’re used to, so there’s no normal way to respond.”

It’s okay to be concerned, afraid even. However, in these uncertain times it’s important to find ways to stay grounded for your mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Here are a few tips we’ve found helpful:

  • Stay connected: Set up a recurring video chat with your friends or (gasp!) call your parents.
  • Document your feelings: Start journaling, and if you have kids get them to journal with you.
  • Keep a routine: If you listened to podcasts on your way to work or hit the gym before checking emails, keep doing that.
  • Get involved: Whether through donations, making masks, or simply using your social channels say thank you to those on the frontline.
  • Explore: Try a new recipe, build a bird house with your kid(s), or walk on a new trail (practicing physical distancing, of course).

We know this is hard and everybody’s situation is different. You're not alone.


Stay informed and connected by visiting our Coronavirus Resource Center.


Find a doctor

If you need a doctor that can help you navigate the mental and physical issues of COVID-19, find one in our provider directory. 

Related Resources

Covid-19 Q&A

Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Focus on Mental Health

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