We are in the middle of making history here, living in the days of a global pandemic.
Here in Virginia, we’ve been issued a stay at home order of protection since March 2020- we are over seven months into being kept at home, away from the people we love, away from stores we used to frequent, unable to do activities we used to do, and so much more.
Our plans have changed.
The way we interact with each other has changed.
The things we talk about, and who we talk to, has changed.
EVERYTHING has changed.
Including our stress and anxiety levels.
How many of you struggled with anxiety before COVID? Now, how many of you find yourself anxious more often than not? It’s a totally normal response to the changes we find ourselves – and our nation – going through. But how do we deal with it, and how do we stay Christ-focused when we have so many questions??
Dealing with anxiety and some of its physical symptoms:
Sometimes anxiety feels like tightness in your chest, or a feeling of adrenaline pumping through your whole body. Other times it causes you to sweat, feel dizzy, feel panicked, or feel sick to your stomach.
There’s a wide range of physical symptoms you could feel during an anxiety attack. When you’re feeling anxious, your body is literally going into “fight or flight mode.” Your mind has your body convinced that you are in danger and that you need to figure out how to deal with it.
During my years of counseling, the biggest thing I’ve been told to do during an anxiety attack is to focus on my breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply causes your central nervous system to slow down, allowing you to begin to process what’s going on with your body.
Pay attention to your surroundings – notice things around you that will help to ground you. Stretch your arms and legs, try to move around, and find a place where you feel safe.
This is the hardest part. You literally have to talk to your brain and convince it: “I am safe, I am ok, there’s no need to be anxious right now.”
Sit down and write out everything that’s making you anxious. Wait until you’ve calmed your body down, and then make a list. Once you’re done, set aside a specific amount of time that you’re going to devote to focusing on the things you wrote on that list. This tells your brain that we are only going to focus on these worries NOW, for this set period of time. We aren’t going to worry about it in an hour, we aren’t gonna dwell on it right before bed – once we’ve worried about these things, we have checked it off for the day.
Staying Christ focused:
We can look to God’s word for help and encouragement for any of our problems in this life. One of the verses that has stayed with me during this pandemic is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)
This means that the fear we are feeling right now – the fear we have surrounding the unknowns of this virus – are not from God. He does not want us to live in fear, which is why He gave us a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. We absorb that power by believing that God is in control of any and every outcome. He is our all-knowing and all-powerful God. There is nothing in the future that He isn’t equipped to handle.
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Wherever you go. It doesn’t say, “unless you’re in quarantine,” “unless you go to the grocery store without a mask on,” or “unless you have COVID-19.”
The Lord YOUR God will be with you, wherever you go. That’s Christ’s guarantee to you.
It has been said that there are 365 passages in the Bible that reference fear, anxiety or worry. That’s at least one word of encouragement for you, from God, every day of the year.
Rest assured, even with these new tips and tricks there will still be days that you feel anxious – we’re human! My anxiety journey ebs and flows, as may yours.
Most importantly just remember: you are strong, you are capable, and you are not alone.