Updated: Mar 26, 2020
We are all navigating a new normal, and wow is it an adjustment. Whether it is WFH (Working From Home), LFH (Learning From Home for the non-homeschoolers), doing a lot more virtual hugging, attending church online, or showing up at Publix at 6:30 am in hopes there just might be a package of chicken thighs hiding behind the leftover packages of St. Patrick’s Day corned beef (guilty!), we are all making major shifts in our routine.
COVID-19 and our new normal for the next few weeks raises a lot of questions:
How do we manage our fear and anxiety?
How do we stay connected when practicing social distancing?
How can we spread peace to others?
How to manage fear and anxiety?
While the Coronavirus is spreading rapidly and the media plagues us (and I use that word intentionally) with the most current updates, it really just feeds the real pandemic—fear and anxiety. Did you know that anxiety is the #1 mental health issue among college aged students, surpassing depression? Yeah, and it’s been that way for a while. So here are some tips for managing it and moving to a place of peace.
Fix your focus—don’t let Coronavirus be your idol by worshipping and focusing on the 24/7 news cycle to get the latest information and stats on it. We talk about COVID-19 non-stop. Seriously, how many of your conversations today centered around it? The thoughts you feed grow and they become fuel for your emotions. Ways to do this include putting a hair band around your wrist and every time you have a fearful thought, snap the band and redirect your thoughts. Write a scripture verse on an index card and put it in your pocket and every time your thoughts head south, pull the verse card out and read it out loud!
Understand the Source—Pandemic, panic, pandemonium. All derive from Greek mythology, the half goat, half man god named Pan. Interestingly, this god is associated with fertility and the season of spring. Although he was the god of nature, the wild, and outdoors type, he liked his naps and when disturbed shouted and created panic. Sister, we don’t worship a little “g” god who creates and instills fear, we worship the God of Psalm 91 who is a refuge and strength, a deliverer from the deadly pestilence; the one who shields you under His wings, and tells you “you will not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness. . . .” Fear does not come from God! So when you feel it, rebuke it! Don’t tolerate it in your life.
Break up with fear—you can do it! Every moment we have the opportunity of what we will partner with with—fear or love. Love is actually the antidote to fear, worry, and anxiety. According to 1 John 4:18 it is God’s perfect Love that casts out all fear. When you start to feel fearful, look fear in the eye and say this, “Fear I see you! I won’t partner with you, and I send you away. I choose instead to partner with God’s love and I invite The Father’s perfect love to fill me now.” Friend, all fear is looking for is your agreement. So dump him!
Fast—from the news, from foods that increase anxiety, from negative people. BTW, a few of the anxiety inducing foods—alcohol, coffee, processed foods, sugar. Swap those out for whole foods like almonds, avocado, asparagus, and blueberries. They have nutrients that fight off anxiety.
Choose peace—find your favorite calming music, put some lavender in your diffuser. Meditate and journal. Read scripture verses out loud and speak peace literally over yourself. Here are a few worship songs that help to center me:
Staying connected in Socially Distanced Reality
Introverts you have been doing the social distancing thing for a while, and those of us extroverts could use some lessons. It’s not the same going to church online, doing meetings through Zoom, or figuring out how to not be awkward when meeting a new person whose hand you can’t shake.
Yup, true story, that awkward first meeting happened to me last Friday with the conference planner and the audio/visual rep over at the Grand Wyndham at Harborside. One approached with her arms crossed hugging her padfolio and the other kept her arms at her side. I tried to ease the tension by saying, “I’d love to shake your hand but could we elbow bump instead?” Both were grateful.
But now we aren’t gathering in groups. And we can’t even go to the beach. Some Coronacation this is! So how can we remain connected when we can’t even get close and have to practice “an abundance of caution” by remaining at an “appropriate social distance?”
Here are a few ideas:
Embrace others figuratively—find ways to reach out. Calling or video chatting is so much more personal than a text. In times like these, people tend to be more vulnerable. Listen! It is a huge emotional (virtual) hug to just listen while someone shares their fears. Your support is a connective tissue that creates a foundation of trust and love.
Be generous—if you feel compelled to load up on and can find wipe, hand sanitizer, or toilet paper at the grocery, buy one for a neighbor or friend. Reach out to neighbors you might not normally connect with to see what they need. Helping others helps you stay connected.
Reframe it—instead of thinking of it as social distancing, think of it as distant socializing, says Stanford psychologist, Jamil Zaki. Facetime, Zoom, or old school phone calling.
Last but not least, let us remember to give everyone love and grace. The truth is, most people are having a hard time grappling with all of the new changes and figuring out how to do their lives completely out of routine. We are all doing the best we can, so extending love and grace to the people in your life will be a gift to them as we all continue navigate our new normal.