We are living in historic times. A worldwide pandemic has engulfed our lives. People are hungry and without jobs. Our government is in disarray. We are somewhat isolated from each other. It is only normal that anxiety levels are high. There are some practices that have helped me in my battles with anxiety.
Take Care of Your Physical Health
We have known since elementary school how important it is to eat right, get enough sleep, and exercise. Yet one thing I have learned about myself is that anxiety motivates me to medicate with food. Not just any food–lots of ice cream and cookies. This week I gained three pounds while on a “diet.” It is a battle for me to maintain a healthy diet, but I feel so much better when I do. Second, get enough rest. A battle I face is taking my phone to bed with me and reading social media. I am then immediately fully awake and worried. I know better. Third, try to get some exercise. It doesn’t have to be a formal visit to the gym, but even a walk through campus can provide a respite from your tension. Finally, wear your mask when around others.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Our physical and mental health are connected. However, there are additional practices that ensure our mental health is addressed. Try to connect with people who have a positive attitude. I have two friends from my high school days that I talk to regularly. When I get off the phone with them, I always feel better from all the laughing and warm conversations we have. Find those people who can lift your spirits. Second, limit your time on social media. This one is challenging for me because of the isolation already felt from staying at home so much. However, I enjoy puzzles, reading, and “netflixing,” and I have tried to insert those activities in place of overdosing on social media. If you find yourself needing help out of a dark place, reach out for assistance. It is not a show of weakness, but strength.
Take Care of Your Emotional Health
Emotional health is similar to wellbeing. It is tempting to let your emotions overrun you when the outside world is pushing and pulling your feelings in disparate directions. First, I would recommend defining the life you want to live and thinking about ways to make that life a reality. For example, I want my extended family in my life, so I make an effort to text my loved ones several times a week. At least once a week, we have extended phone conversations to share what is going on in our lives. Second, I want a life in which I can see the good in people. I have witnessed numerous responses to “Go Fund Me” pages on social media where perfect strangers are taking care of each other. This week a gentleman with five children reached out on Twitter with a plea for help for him and his five children. He had just lost his job and his wife to covid. A friend of his posted an Amazon list of things needed by the man and his children. Within minutes the list was fulfilled. That gives me hope during these challenging times.
Live by Faith
I find comfort in the fact that we are told more than 300 times in the Bible, “Do not be afraid.” There are things in our world out of our control. Even when we eat right, sleep enough, and take care of our mental and emotional health, the outside world may be in chaos. It helps me to envision myself being covered by a glass bell jar with God inside it with me. Even though the world may peck away at the jar, I am safe. Nothing on the outside can break the cover I have. “When fear knocks on your door, send faith to answer” (author unknown).
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“Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you”1 Peter 5:7