Who we are and what this is!
NISAD – the National Institutes for Stress, Anxiety and Depression – is a not-for-profit family of researchers in biomedical science and mental health who produce products that help people change how they feel, and what they do, by producing programmes, apps and games.
These go by the name “ELK-Health”.
We help people get back control over what they feel by supporting them as they discover how real change can happen – for everyone.
And it will arm you for life, because when you have finished, you will always understand the relationship between the chemicals your body produces and how you feel about things.
You will never have to worry about feeling uncertain again.
For our wellbeing, learning to cope with the uncertainty of this global situation is essential
In normal circumstances, many of us can find moments of uncertainty difficult or unsettling.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a great amount of uncertainty for all of us, every day, for a sustained period of time – whether it be about how our lives will be in the future, about our health and the health of our loved ones, or about our personal finances and the general economic outlook.
This ongoing uncertainty can become overwhelming.
If we feel anxious in the face of uncertainty we can find ourselves catastrophising: this is when our thoughts get carried away with all the things that might go wrong; where we can get fixated on a worst-case scenario or compulsively and obsessively picture future possibilities that we find unpleasant, worrying or upsetting.
In a vicious cycle, catastrophising can then exacerbate the anxiety and increase the amount of stress we put on ourselves, leading to excess-stress.
Anxiety and Excess-stress can negatively affect our mental health. They also produce physical effects on the body – including increased cortisol, blood pressure and inflammation – which can impair our physical and emotional wellbeing.
In addition to this, anxiety and excess-stress can result in behaviours that are harmful to our wellbeing as we seek to comfort ourselves and escape from our uneasiness – for example, with food, drink, drugs or other addictive habits.
Studies show that continuous stress and anxiety can lead to depression.
In this current time, for us to improve and maintain our wellbeing, it’s never been more important for us to learn how to manage uncertainty.
Uncertainty isn’t what makes us unwell.
It’s our response to uncertainty and how we perceive it that can affect our physical and emotional wellbeing.
At NISAD, with our knowledge about anxiety, Excess-stress and behavioural and evolutionary psychology, we are creating a 21 day series – to be delivered to the public by ELK-Health – that will equip people with understanding and tools to change the way they respond to, and feel about, uncertainty.
Our #CertainAboutUncertainty series is science-based and combines various therapeutic approaches, including mindfulness and hypnosis, which have been shown to reduce anxiety and excess-stress.
The series engages rational-thinking to provide education and develop insights so that participants are equipped with the information they need to understand how they can support their wellbeing.
Importantly, our #CertainAboutUncertainty series also engages the part of our mind that operates outside of our conscious awareness. This is essential in order to address the innate dichotomies that exist when people want to change the way they think, feel and behave: that is that, very often, one part of our mind wants one thing, and another part of our mind wants something quite the opposite.
For those of us struggling with uncertainty, while one part of the mind wants to get comfortable with uncertainty, the other part of the mind has its own reasons for keeping us anxious.
Our #CertainAboutUncertainty series guides participants in resolving this dichotomy so that they can develop greater tolerance, and even inner assurance, about uncertainty.
Undertaking the series over the suggested 21 days, participants are supported in a daily practice, which will enable them to create and strengthen new neural pathways in how they think, feel and respond when it comes to uncertainty.
Upon completion of the course, participants will have the tools and resources to continue a mindfulness practice and approach to life, which will enhance their ability to cope with uncertainty.
Delivered free and online, our #CertainAboutUncertainty series is an easy and accessible way for participants to support their wellbeing as they learn to become certain about uncertainty.
How participants will benefit
Life is full of uncertainties and situations that we can’t control. If we have the internal tools and resources to be OK with not knowing and to manage difficulties and challenges as best we can by being present in ourselves, then we feel better emotionally and physically.
As we increase our emotional resilience, we feel better able to cope, and we more readily make choices that support our wellbeing.
Through undertaking our #CertainAboutUncertainty series, participants will be cultivating practices, resources and attitudes that will enable them to respond to uncertainty in a way that feels comfortable, and, as we are all unique, in a way that feels right to them.
These skills are key to navigating one’s way resiliently through the Covid-19 pandemic, and throughout life.
works with the interplay of our body and ‘minds’
We understand how important the dichotomous nature of our mind is when we seek to make, and maintain, changes to the way we think, feel and act. With this understanding, our #CertainAboutUncertainty series appeals to both the rational-thinking part of our mind and the part of our mind that operates outside of conscious awareness. Through acknowledging and addressing this dichotomy we support participants in their ability to cultivate habits and attitudes that will enable them to think and feel differently about uncertainty.
Series length and structure
#CertainAboutUncertainty is a 21-day series.
We suggest completing the course over 21 days as this gives time for reflection, absorption and practice. However, we understand that everyone is different in how they learn and assimilate information, as well as in the time they have available, so participants will be able to work through the series at their own pace. It will also be possible for them to repeat and review content as often as they like.
In this first series, over the suggested 21 days, participants will get to know five of the foundational attitudes of mindfulness. Spending four days with each attitude, participants will first be introduced to the attitude to gain an understanding of why it’s useful for managing uncertainty. After each introduction, participants are then taken through three therapeutic experiences or activities (over each of the following three days) to enhance their integration of the information and practice of the attitude.
Upon completion of the series, participants will have the resources to continue practising all five of these attitudinal foundations of mindfulness in their daily lives.
We are in the final stages of the raw content (“script”) development as well as planning for the production phase. Once we move into production, we estimate six weeks for completion.
The elements of production include:
- Sign-off of the final script;
- Recording of the audio tracks;
- Recording of the to-camera video pieces;
- Creation the visual elements (animations, images, etc);
- Quality checks;
- Upload to our online platform with free registration functionality;
- Provision of information about the series on our websites: nisad.ngo and certainaboutuncertainty.ngo;
- Promotion across social media;
- Gathering of feedback.
The series doesn’t end here...
Covid-19 and beyond
Uncertainty is a normal part of life. Yet, many people don’t feel ‘normal’ about it. As the world has been going through the Covid-19 pandemic together, it has shown that many, many people struggle with uncertainty.
We can be certain that when the uncertainty around Covid-19 dissipates, other uncertainties will arise – different uncertainties, for different people, at different times. We can’t change the fact that uncertainties will come our way, but we can change our response to it.
Our #CertainAboutUncertainty series will support participants in their ability to cope with the uncertainty of Covid-19, and more than that, the uncertainty that is inherent in life. As series participants learn how to become more certain about uncertainty, they will find that challenging and difficult times become more manageable, both now and in the future.
#CertainAboutUncertainty Series One is a core programme that will support anyone struggling to deal with uncertainty.
We have a second series planned that will build on the learnings, understandings and practice of Series One – delving deeper into the five attitudinal foundations of mindfulness we explored in Series One and introducing the further four attitudes – so that participants from all over can continue to develop their emotional resilience in the face of uncertainty.
We also understand that our different audience groups face unique and particular challenges specific to their situation. With this in mind, we will be adding content to the core series to meet the needs of these groups.
In particular, our immediate focus will be on developing our #CertainAboutUncertainty Series to offer particularly relevant content for people who have experienced cognitive decline as a result of contracting Covid-19, as well as for our CalmBaby, NoWeigh and Type2Club audiences.
Adaptive and responsive
Our #CertainAboutUncertainty series isn’t a rigid entity but will be fluid and responsive to the needs of our participants. Gathering feedback and our ongoing scientific research will enable us to develop the second and further series to optimise participant benefit and engagement.
In addition to the series, participants will also be able to subscribe to a newsletter – for updates and invitations to additional content and resources – and follow us across our social media channels for ongoing support.