If you have been anywhere near a TV, radio, or smartphone lately you have most likely heard of COVID-19 or Coronavirus. It is hard not to hear about it; believe me, I have tried to turn the channel, scroll past the news items, but… it is everywhere!
People are responding in ways that are rather unexpected: buying masks, stock-piling hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, food, cancelling travel plans, and the list goes on.
Anxiety is a very real issue in today’s world. There are so many things to consider. Our expectations and pressures pile up, and we can quickly become overwhelmed. Now we have a super-virus to add to our worries and stress! This is one of those times in life when it may be difficult to remain calm, but we do have a place to find that calm: with our Lord.
Anxiety thrives on uncertainty and the world is drowning in this right now. If we choose to focus on the uncertainties and stresses, we actually make ourselves more vulnerable to viruses of any kind; our immune systems become overworked and are not able to fight off infections as efficiently.
Below are a few things to remember as we work to calm the anxiety that is all around us now.
*It is important for to take time and get away from all the noise surrounding us and find quiet time to be with God. Here are a couple passages to reflect on:
Psalm 94:18-19 “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”
Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
1.) Limit your exposure to the news. Unplug and be “in the moment” with those around you. Limit notifications, choose one way/time to get your news each day (don’t watch coverage 24/7). Try a mindfulness app on your phone, Calm and Headspace are two freebies.
2.) Prioritize good sleep and healthy habits. Anxiety can trick us into believing we don’t have time to take care of ourselves. This is not true. Making time to exercise, even just walking the dog (or yourself) on a sunny day can help clear your thoughts and focus your mind on positive things. Exercise can increase production of our “feel good hormones” and who doesn’t want to feel good?! If falling asleep is a problem, do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise and consider turning off all screens an hour before bed. Pray and make good sleep a priority, you will notice an improvement in mood, as most of us are irritable when we are tired. Make sure your diet is balanced as well, this will help boost your immune system, but also recent studies have found that a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein (like Mediterranean-style) helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.
3.) When you are prone to anxiety, you like to feel a sense of control, so take control of what you can right now and let things that are not within your control go. Give these to God. Perhaps even write them down, crumple them up and toss them up to God (yes you will have to pick up the crumpled paper that misses the recycle bin, but you get the idea). If it helps to have a plan in place in case your child’s school or your place of employment is closed, plan for it, then put the plan away someplace out of sight.
4.) Look for things that make you smile. Research shows that finding things that make you smile and looking for things you are grateful for each day can boost your mood and eventually change the way you view the world around you. There are still good things happening around us, we only need to look for them. It feels so much better to find the good in each day than to only see the negatives.
Wash your hands and use the “elbow bump”, but most importantly;
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10