• Gordon Gooding, LCSW

Tools for Dealing with Uncertainty


5 Ways to Deal with The Uncertainty of Returning to School Post-COVID

As our summer slowly comes to an end, students, parents and teachers alike are wondering what this fall will look like. College students are wondering what returning to (or beginning) classes will look like. Elementary students are anxious to be back around their friends and teachers. High School students may be wondering how they will physically distance in an already overcrowded hallway. Our students are looking to their parents and teachers and unfortunately there are no concrete answers. As we try to move back into normalcy, the inevitable and unclear reopening of school looms in the near future. This brings to the surface many concerns about how things will go when students return in the fall. The uncertainty felt by students, teachers, and parents alike can be sources of anxiety and apprehension, especially after such a long period of collective trauma like the one we are currently experiencing.

The only thing that’s certain in life is uncertainty…so how can we deal with it? How can we prepare for potential changes? While the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice says children learn best when they are in school, however with increasing numbers of COVID-19 around the country many families and schools are struggling with what is the best path forward. Although younger children, high-schoolers and college students have completely different experiences and concerns unique to their respective age groups, this advice can apply to anyone at any age. So if you’re a student, teacher, parent or basic human being, these pointers may be helpful to you:

1: Be mindful. Stay in the moment: Notice and appreciate the beauty of every moment you experience. Rather than listening to the endless chatter of your inner dialogue, instead listen to the chirping of the birds, feel the ground below your feet, and commune with the stillness of the air. While meditation is one way to become more mindful, it isn’t the only approach. Sometimes it helps to simply take an inventory of the good things in your day.

2: Prepare for multiple outcomes: The possibility of multiple outcomes can make a person feel like they have less control than they’d like. Be flexible and open to other outcomes than the one you want the most, or the one you expect most to happen. While we are planning on returning to school at this point, let us also be prepared that this could change in the future and we may have to return to remote learning/working.

3: Replace expectations with plans: When you form expectations, you could potentially be setting yourself up for disappointment. Expect too much and your vision could be hard to live up to. Conversely, expect too little and you might miss or refuse to seize good opportunities. Instead of expecting something specific, focus on what you’ll do to bring about the experience you seek.

4: Focus on what we can control: While it’s possible for us to control or manipulate many different factors that can lead to certain ends, it’s truly impossible to fully control the outcome of any given situation. Focus only on the factors you can change instead of worrying about things you can’t. We may not be able to control the spread of COVID-19 around the country, but we can make personal decisions that will reduce your personal chances of exposure through hygiene, distancing and making smart choices regarding exposure. You may come to find that you’re more in control than you might have thought.

5: Utilize stress management - seek teletherapy: If you’re dealing with uncertainty, you probably have stress in your body. Author, psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach has said “Your issues are in your tissues”. There are some great tools available that give you the ability to speak to a therapist in the comfort of your own home. Teletherapy is a new trend in counseling that is here to stay. You can learn all about it in this article here. If you are interested in teletherapy, call Gooding Wellness and set up a session today.

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