There can be a wide variety of unknowns. For example, with trepidation we await the results of medical tests, of exams, of job interviews. And these days, we are concerned about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Is there going to another dangerous iteration that will need to be handled by our society and ourselves?
Uncertainty can breed anxiety. We wait uncomfortably, often ruminating about all the possible outcomes we can think of. The worst outcomes that we conjure up are particularly upsetting and difficult to ignore.
A recent article by H. Santoro in the Monitor (2021, Vol. 52; No. 8) of the American Psychological Association reported on the "science of uncertainty." Research has shown that uncertainty is hardest to bear at the beginning and end of the waiting period. People often tend to have developed optimism until the moment when the results are to be delivered. Then they prepare for what they fear will be bad news. Still optimists tend to be less anxious overall than pessimists.
Research into uncertainty has shown that certain coping skills can make waiting easier. Distracting activities bring some relief. They seem to help by making time go by more quickly. Also mindfulness makes a constructive impact. Mindfulness is staying in the present moment, which means one is not thinking of future maybes. For health matters, good communication between patient and provider is supportive.