Coping With the Uncontrollable

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

2020 gave us plenty of unexpected events and turned our lives upside down in many ways. Whether we’ve experienced job loss, grief, loss of community, kids learning from home, or some combination of stressors, we’ve been handed a lot to deal with in a very short amount of time.

Many of us, especially folks in the live events industry, have experienced employment strains, including unemployment or our work being impacted by the pandemic. It has made it increasingly more challenging to feel a sense of stability when so many troubles with our livelihoods have been handed to us.

So how can we care for our mental health when we’re dealing with the chaos of work, a pandemic, our families, and more?

Audience Questions

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, shares tools and tips to better accept what we can’t control, provides strategies to manage work and life stress, and answers audience questions about ways to cope with what life throws our way.

  • Can you talk about coping? How do we know if our coping is healthy or has tipped into being unhealthy?
  • How can I be more comfortable with the unknown? I don’t know what my job will be like when it’s okay to be physically back in the workplace, but I know it’ll be different than before—and not knowing what it’ll look like makes me anxious.
  • Do you have any suggestions for how to support others who are coping poorly with uncontrollable stress and loss in their lives?
  • I’m not having as hard a time as my friend/partner/sibling/coworker is, but they never ask for help and are very proud of their work and their ability to work through any difficult circumstances. How can I check in with them without hurting their pride?
  • How can I be present for others when I’m grieving the loss of a loved one?
  • A lot of us in the live events industry find so much joy in doing our jobs and seeing all the happy guests at our events or shows. How can we find new sources of joy while these events are on hold?
  • Unemployment has been so high for so long, and many of us are feeling uneasy about when and how we’ll reenter the workforce. Do you have any advice for giving ourselves pep talks and encouraging ourselves—and our peers—to be confident in wavering job circumstances?
  • How do I get past the thought that if I’m out of work I feel like I’m not providing for my family? How can I reframe my thoughts to both acknowledge the situation I’m in and not get stuck in the anxiety of it all?
  • Many of our LGBTQ+ friends and family members find that their workplaces also serve as their social circles and their support networks. So many of us have been displaced and are feeling disconnected from one another and even ourselves. How can we check in on our LGBTQ+ friends’ mental health, and how can we support them even if we can’t see them in person?
  • Do you have any suggestions about how to manage challenging childcare, including how to support children who are dealing with this overwhelming time by throwing tantrums and expressing rage?
  • How can a non-BIPOC person support BIPOC people who are dealing with so much more stress and anxiety right now?
  • What can I do if I feel like I can’t take time for myself? I feel the need to constantly work. I want to read fiction books, but I feel like it’s not benefiting me enough to spend time on it. I can’t let myself relax.
  • Having made good steps toward managing anxiety and establishing a healthier mindset around work and rest, how should I deal with the fear that I won’t be able to maintain this healthier mindset as things get back to normal? What do I do if I fall back into my old habits and emotional ruts?
  • How do you cope with seeing vaccinated friends and family start moving back to more normal or pre-pandemic activities while knowing that it may still be a while before you’re able to do these things yourself?
  • How do I find patience? Are there any steps I can learn to keep that ability?
  • Is there a point when self-care becomes an avoidance tactic? If yes, do you have suggestions on how to recognize this?
  • Do you have any suggestions for those of us who don’t have a strong social circle outside of work?
  • Can you speak to the isolation and the dangers of being stuck in your head? How can I move away from getting trapped in a mental cycle of problem-solving?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


You may also find this information helpful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

More Webinars

It’s important to think about ways to manage your mental health. McLean is committed to providing mental health and self-care resources for all who may need them. You and your family may find these strategies from McLean experts helpful to feel mentally balanced in your everyday lives.

Sign up now for the next webinar in our Mental Health Webinar Series.