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6 steps to help you deal with the stress of uncertainty

Dr. Tamara Hodges
Licensed Psychologist
Senior Lecturer, Baylor University
Department of Educational Psychology

This is the last section in the series, Coping with Our New Normal. Since you read Part Two, were you able to walk away when tempted to engage in a heated conversation? Did you make the time to practice self-care? In conclusion, let’s address the final two strategies for helping to cope with uncertainty.

  1. Exercise exerting power.

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of a pandemic, so focus on what you can do to improve your situation. That could mean reaching out to human resources to inquire about leave or child-care options, contacting an employee assistance program about teletherapy resources, incorporating movement or relaxation practices into your day, or signing up for professional development or psychoeducational programs.

* Take steps to mitigate risk, such as wearing a mask and washing your hands.

* Strive to establish healthy boundaries.

* Set personal policies around when your workday begins and ends, when you turn off the computer, and when you stop returning emails.

  1. If you can’t fix it, aim for acceptance.

Facets of the pandemic are out of our control. You can’t unilaterally determine whether your school, or your child’s school, operates virtually or in person. You can’t guarantee you’ll reach every student, and you can’t eradicate tough emotions. In fact, you might feel worse if you try to push your pain away. As Carl Jung famously said, “What you resist persists.”

Acceptance doesn’t mean that you like the current reality; it just means you stop fighting it. Stop trying to fix things you can’t change!  Instead, devote your energy to coping with disappointment and unmet expectations. You might even be able to identify a silver lining, or at least some shades of gray.

“Surround yourself with positive people, make time for self-care habits, focus your energy on what you can control and less on what you cannot control..”

What are the key strategies that you want to implement from Part Three?

* Focus more on what you CAN do and less on what you CANNOT do.

* Accept the things you cannot change, focus your energy on the things you can, and use wisdom to know the difference between the two…. Does this sound familiar?

In conclusion, accept that the global pandemic has introduced new and uncertain challenges.  As a result, we need to develop new routines, new skills, and new ways to cope.  It is my hope that you have taken the time to focus on the positive growth that has occurred, surrounded yourself with positive people, made time for self-care habits, and focused your energy more on what you can control and less on what you cannot control.


Berger, T. (2018). An inside look at trauma-informed practices. Edutopia.

Fagell, P. (2020). Coping with change and uncertainty. Mental Health for Educators, 78(4), 22-26.

Feiler, B. (2020). Life is in the transitions: Mastering change at any age. Penguin Press.

Steiner-Adair, C. (2014). The big disconnect. Harper Press.

Tamara Hodges

Dr. Tamara Hodges of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has a background in psychology and education. She received her doctorate from Baylor University in Educational Psychology and went on to pursue a license to practice as a psychologist. She has owned her psychology practice, consulted with many schools in Central Texas, given more than 150 presentations as a public speaker, and practiced eight years as a psychologist in private practice. For the past eleven years, she has been teaching at Baylor in the School Psychology Program.

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