If you’re anything like me, you’re probably feeling anxious in this season.
Maybe you’re anxious about how this crazy virus has impacted your job.
Maybe you are worried about how you are going to entertain you kids around the house for yet another day.
Maybe your fridge is empty, and you’re dreading going to the grocery store.
Yup. This is new territory for us all, regardless of your specific circumstances.
I have had my FAIR share of worry during this time, and wanted to share my top suggestions that have been the most fruitful.
1.Use Your Resources
Text, email, Snapchat, Zoom, literally anything. Use it. Call your family members. I’ve talked to my Grandma more times during the last month than I have since the start of the year. The college roommate Snapchat group has been revived, and I love it! It is so much easier to let your thoughts spiral while alone. Go out of your way to surround yourself with virtual community. We’re in this TOGETHER.
2.Take a Walk
I stew. Ooh I stew with the best of them. I will sit with one little negative thing for far too long, and let it affect my whole day. Ask my fiancé (sorry Daniel…).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says this: “Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
Five minutes?! I thought that was amazing.
“According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.”
While the article does say that some people may experience a very minimal effect, try it for yourself! I don’t think anybody needs to be convinced that exercise is good for us in more than one way.
Instead of stewing on those negative thoughts, move a little, if only for 15 minutes. Boost those endorphins, and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
Find something familiar to incorporate into your every day. We are all mourning the familiar right now, as we live in new territory. Try having a structured morning time! Mine looks like keto coffee (yup, I’ve taken to it. with the coconut oil this time!), reading, and answering emails from my school kids.
Another rhythm my fiancé and I have come up with is TV time at night. We watch our church’s daily devotional while we eat our homemade dinner, and then follow our watch schedule. Yesterday was The Office Monday. We’re on Season 3 now. I’ve literally never seen the show, please don’t stop reading…(I can see why people love it).
Anyway, come up with YOUR thing, and work it in. It can take up as much as a few hours, or as little as 5 minutes. There will be one less choice you have to make, and one more familiar thing among the chaos.
4. Girl, PRAYYY.
When I was still teaching in-person, I had a time where anxiety got the better of me. Doing my day felt like torture. I found myself asking the Lord “take this worry from me, please” and “give me the strength to endure this”. That was the season I was in.
These past couple months, when I remember to reach out to the Lord with my worry (this is a thing, it is not automatic, you have to train yourself to think like this. don’t beat yourself up!), I remind myself of what I was told by a wise counselor: “invite God into your worry”. Take some deep, DEEP breaths. Good ones. Then maybe ask the Lord to be in it with you. Maybe not “why am I feeling this way?”, but “what do you want me to know about this?”
That same wise counselor said this to me:
“I can’t help but wonder if what you’re going through, that causes you to struggle, is an invitation to run to Him, where you wouldn’t as much otherwise.”
How profound is that?
Isn’t that what we’re all going through right now? A situation so out of our control?
The whole world is being offered an invitation to run to Him, where we probably wouldn’t otherwise. Are we gonna take it? This could be a question to ponder.
This mindset shift turns our prayers for survival into a request for eyes to see how He might be moving in our midst.
(Side note: I can’t think of a single person who regrets their decision to talk to a pro, or a trusted person, about their battle with their mind. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. We all need to learn and keep relearning this. You’re not meant to navigate these waters alone.)
I encourage you to take a bold step to fight your worry this season. EVEN IF your bold step is stillness.
Verses for Worry:
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”. ~ Isaiah 41:10
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
“When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.” ~ Psalm 94:19
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” ~ Matthew 6:34
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”~ Psalm 46:1
“Exercise for Stress and Anxiety.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, ADAA, 2018, adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety.