Pandemic. Just the word feels surreal and causes my mind to wander somewhere between a future apocalyptic sci-fi movie and a History Chanel documentary. This week has been historic, mind-blowing, and hard. It is my turn to write the prayer blog and what I wrote last week feels trite and unimportant against every conversation, tweet, post, and news source churning out mandates for quarantines, isolation, and cancellations. Tonight, I sat with a senior whose college graduation was canceled, artists who won’t get to perform productions they have worked months preparing, athletes whose season has ended before it began, and parents wondering how they will pay bills and find work with kids home and job lay-offs. I can feel the tension, anxiety, and sadness around me, and honestly, I’m feeling it too.
And so, I’m offering two things to you in the blog today. First, a simple prayer. Second, some really sound wisdom from a dear friend and psychologist, Christina Smith. I hope that both bring you peace.
God, when all of life feels turned upside down, we easily recognize our deep need for you.
When we are afraid, remind us how much you love us.
When we are confused, remind us that you are all-knowing and care deeply.
When we feel alone, draw us to community.
When we are anxious, grant us peace.
In Jesus name, Amen
ANXIETY AND THE PANDEMIC
By Christina Smith, psychologist at Stillwaters Professional Counseling (original post on Facebook March 12)
In this pandemic state, we are talking a great deal about how to remain healthy and how to prepare for potential quarantines. There is a lot of information being disseminated regarding the virus. This information can be useful in learning how to best respond.
It is times like these when it is imperative to be aware of our own emotional state. Specifically, I want to address the issue of anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
– restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
– being easily fatigued
– difficulty concentrated or one’s mind going blank
– racing thoughts
– physical symptoms such as trembling, racing pulse, shortness of breath
– muscle tension
– sleep disturbance
Like this virus, some of us are more susceptible to anxiety than others. It is important to understand your own susceptibility (and those in your direct care) in these times.
Anxiety needs fuel to thrive. Sometimes we can eliminate the fuel source and sometimes we cannot eliminate the fuel source.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety during this pandemic, please consider if your anxiety is receiving energy from things that can be eliminated or reduced. Also, please keep in mind, as I stated earlier, that you may be more or less susceptible to anxiety than the next person. What your neighbor can tolerate with little increase in anxiety may differ from what you can tolerate.
To start, here are some questions to ask yourself and then consider if they can be reduced or eliminated.
Is my caffeine or sugar intake making me feel jittery?
Does scrolling on social media increase my racing thoughts?
Is the amount of news I am reading/watching increasing my sense of panic?
Are my conversations primarily about fears associated with the virus/fears of the potential impact?
Am I using numbing behaviors to escape?
Is my self-talk a spiral of complaint/comparison/what if’s?
In your attempt to care well for your emotional state, it is beneficial to consider something you desire instead of anxiety. For me, I desire peace. So we will use peace as an example. I am guilty of full-force fueling anxiety at certain times in my life. I have had moments of this throughout the past week and am recognizing the need to turn the tide.
What is best for me is when I consider how to fuel the emotion I actually want – PEACE. I have practices that I do on a regular basis that fuel peace in my life. It is crucial that I employ those practices now if peace is what I desire to fuel. Here are some things that bring me peace –
Spending time reading scripture
Listening to music
Listening to books
Slowly repeating “I receive peace”
Cuddling and watching fun shows with my family
Having a conversation with the cashier
Complimenting a friend or a stranger
A hot shower
Taking my time while cooking a meal
Turning off my notifications and ringers
Sitting in silence
Information is good. Learning what we are to do and taking appropriate steps is wise.
But please care for your emotional self well during this time. It is an incredibly important part of who you are. Please continue doing the things that keep you physically healthy but emotionally healthy as well.
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