Executive Director of the Samaritan Counseling Center of Southwest Georgia
Everything changes. Quickly. It would almost be amazing if it wasn’t so scary how quickly things can change. With the current social climate surrounding the Coronavirus concern, it’s important to be aware, alert and cautious. But, we also don’t want to live in a state of panic or fear. The virus is a very real health concern that has to be addressed but can also lead to an increase in stress and anxiety. With concerns about jobs, security, finances, the virus, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
Practicing a healthy response to anxiety is vital in stressful times. Sometimes our anxious responses can compound an already stressful situation.
• Practice self-awareness. Be aware of what you normally do when you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.
• Maintain healthy physical routine of sleep patterns and healthy eating. Be aware of when these patterns are disrupted and why.
• Stay connected with your support system. Be an encouragement to others and let them encourage you through stressful events. Laugh. Be aware of when you disconnect.
• Name your feelings. A lot of us make decisions based on our feelings and may not recognize what we are feeling in the moment. Are you feeling hopeful, confident, overwhelmed, defeated, discouraged, or afraid? Be aware of your emotional state and decisions that may be fueled by an emotional reaction.
• Limit how much you watch the news or social media that is feeding into fears. We want to be informed, aware, and knowledgeable but we don’t want to continue feeding worst-case scenarios into our brains. In a time like this when we are encouraged to avoid crowds, practice social distancing, or isolate, it can be easy to just watch and wait for the next bit of critical news to drop. Give yourself a break from the crisis. Be aware of how much you are watching and how you are reacting.
• Stay physically active and engaged. There can still be safe ways to get out, go walking, get fresh air, avoid big crowds, go fishing, and still keep moving.
• In the moment, practice calming yourself. Take long slow deep breaths and breathe. Repeat if necessary. Be aware of what parts of your body are tense or uncomfortable. Relax your muscles. Allow yourself to think something positive.
• Pray. Bring your requests to God and allow Him to carry those burdens. As Eugene Peterson writes “instead of worrying, pray… shape your worries into prayers”. Believe He is able to handle all things. Even this.
Anxiety, worry, stress, and depression can be serious conditions and should be addressed as such. If you or someone you know is struggling with these and not sure how to handle the current situation, seek out a pastor or trained professional to talk to.