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Navigating Uncertainty: Managing Anxiety and Emotional Stress in Times of Labour Disruptions

Living in uncertain times can be incredibly challenging, especially for those of us in the motion picture sector currently facing work disruptions due strikes in the United States. As productions are delayed or put on hold here in Canada, we are grappling with uncertainties surrounding our livelihood and income.

Labour disruptions in the US film industry can have far-reaching effects on workers across the border in Canada and the rest of the world. The uncertainty surrounding delayed productions and loss of income can be overwhelming. Many of us rely on steady work in the industry to support ourselves and our families, making sudden disruptions a significant source of stress and anxiety.

This state of uncertainty can trigger a range of emotional and psychological challenges. Feelings of anxiety, fear, and frustration may arise as we face the unknown and navigate the complexities of our career and personal lives. Sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, and changes in appetite are some common symptoms that can accompany this period of uncertainty. Acknowledging the impact of these challenges is essential, as it allows us to develop effective coping mechanisms and support systems to navigate through these difficult times.

Research on Psychological Uncertainty and Coping Mechanisms:

Various studies have shed light on the psychological and mental health strains experienced by individuals facing uncertainty and the unknown. Researchers have identified common stressors related to labour disruptions, such as financial instability, job insecurity, and feelings of helplessness. These stressors can significantly impact mental well-being and lead to anxiety and emotional distress.

Coping mechanisms play a crucial role in how individuals navigate uncertainty. Some coping strategies have been found to be particularly effective in alleviating psychological strains include incorporating mindfulness Practices into your day such as meditation and deep breathing exercises; building and maintaining a strong support network; using your problem-solving skill to break down challenges into manageable steps and potential solutions; and reframing negative thoughts and emotions into more positive perspectives.

Managing Anxiety During Uncertain Times

Here is a checklist of proven strategies we can use to address and manage the psychological challenges we are facing:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: It's essential to recognize and accept the emotions you are experiencing. Anxiety, fear, and frustration are natural responses to uncertain situations. Allow yourself to feel these emotions without judgment. Example: Keep a journal to express your feelings and thoughts. Writing can be therapeutic and help process emotions during times of uncertainty.

  2. Stay Informed: While it's tempting to disconnect from news about the labour disruptions, staying informed about the situation can provide some reassurance. Follow reputable news sources and industry updates to be aware of any progress or changes. Example: Set a specific time each day to catch up on industry news and updates. Limiting exposure to constant updates can prevent information overload.

  3. Focus on What You Can Control: In times of uncertainty, focusing on what you can control can help ease anxiety. While you may not have control over the labour disruptions, you can take charge of your own well-being and make plans for alternative sources of income or career development. Example: Develop a financial budget and explore other income-generating opportunities, such as freelance work or online gigs. An in-depth discussion on this topic can be found on Episode 2 of Calltime’s new podcast here.

  4. Reach Out for Support: Talk to friends, family, or colleagues who understand the challenges of the industry. Sharing your feelings with others can be cathartic and provide a sense of camaraderie. Example: Organize a virtual support group with industry peers to discuss shared experiences and offer emotional support.

  5. Utilize Mental Health Resources: If anxiety becomes overwhelming, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offered by unions or production companies can provide confidential counseling and support. Example: Reach out to your union's EAP/MAP to access mental health resources, counselling, and coping strategies for managing stress found here

  6. Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care activities that nurture your emotional well-being. Engage in hobbies, physical exercise, meditation, or mindfulness practices to reduce stress and foster resilience. Example: Dedicate time each day for mindfulness meditation ,yoga, or a focused hobby to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.

  7. Set Realistic Goals: During labour disruptions, it's essential to set realistic goals for yourself. Be kind to yourself and avoid putting unnecessary pressure on your career during these challenging times. Example: Focus on achievable short-term goals, such as completing a personal creative project, updating your certifications and training, or updating your portfolio.


As we use these ways to deal with the mental health and wellbeing challenges of work disruptions, it's important to remember that everyone's situation is different. What helps one person might not help another as much. The key is to experiment and use coping mechanisms that fit your individual preferences and needs.

By using these techniques, which are backed by research, along with the help of our community and mental health tools, we can build resilience, improve well-being, and deal with the problems that come with uncertain times. Remember that we're all in this together, and if we help each other, we can come out of this as a better, more resilient group.

  1. If you are part of a Union benefit plan in BC, check HERE for a list of mental health resources and services

  2. Listen to our recent Podcast Episode HERE on managing personal finances.

  3. Read our previous post “Coping with Job Uncertainty and Seasonal Work in the Entertainment Industry” (financial tips) HERE

  4. We can all feel sad, hopeless, and tired of everything sometimes. But when do these symptoms become a mental health condition? Read our post about depression HERE


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