Coronavirus. COVID-19. Income. Bills. Social Distancing. Health. If these words have fear and anxiety flooding through your body, you’re not alone. The current pandemic (there’s another word) that we’re under is affecting people around the globe. These are uncertain times and we just don’t know what to expect.
When the outbreak started in China, my 13-year-old daughter was constantly worried about it. The first few weeks that this was starting to impact America, I was addicted to the media. There were mixed messages and still are. I wanted to know exactly what was going on so I could be prepared. Did we need to take it seriously? Was it really not a big deal? It felt like I needed to know.
But… the news sucks
When the world is facing what’s being called a “pandemic”, the last thing we need is for our country to be divided amongst itself. And, yet that’s exactly what the media does. They highlight the political aspect of this. Each station presenting how they see the situation from their political stances (CNN and Fox News). We don’t need all that.
The more I watched, the more stressed I got. People are dying. The economy is falling. The government is fighting.
Consuming large amounts of this was bad for my mental health. Consuming a large amount of it is bad for YOUR mental health too!
The fear-mongering that’s happening in the media should be against the law. And, while I’m not saying that news reporters are purposefully trying to lie to us about facts, it’s so hard to tell what the actual truth is. There are stats and numbers and experts on both sides of the fence. And, to be honest, the truth usually lies in the middle somewhere.
So, we need to limit our media access
We can’t control what the news is going to report on, so we need to limit our access to it instead. Since I work from home and was already homeschooling before this all started, my schedule hasn’t changed as much as what many others are experiencing. And, I still have a lot to be doing at home.
I don’t need to waste precious time glued to the news and neither do you.
So, here’s what I do instead. I check the news headlines a few times a day. And, I’ve heard of some that are only checking once a day or every other day. And, honestly, the reason I’m still checking as often as I am is because I’m waiting for our county or state “stay in place” orders.
Do what’s right for you, but I can assure you that checking the news hourly isn’t the answer.
Limit how often you watch the news, how often you check news updates on your phone and turn off any notifications on your phone that update you of news headlines. Then, and I know this is hard for many of us, limit your social media access, especially to sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Social media is full of negative energy. Even if you try not to see news updates, others will be talking about them. So, limit your access. Block the sites on your phone or set timers to limit how long you can spend scrolling each day. Whatever it is, make sure that you’re not just spending your day scrolling and stressing.
You have to choose what to think about
If you’ve been spending a lot of time stressed and worried lately, it’s time to take control of your thoughts. You can CHOOSE WHAT YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT. That was a mind-blowing realization for me a decade ago.
If you don’t purposefully choose your thoughts, then all kinds of things will enter your mind and you’ll think about them. The Bible says that we should take every thought captive to Christ. We get to choose our thoughts, which means we can choose not to live in fear over this pandemic.
I’ll be upfront with you. It’s not easy. It actually feels more like a battle, but it’s one that’s worth fighting. In the end, you’ll find more peace during trying times.
But, you can’t simply choose not to worry. I can assure you that you’re not going to just think about nothing. So instead, you have to fill your head with other things so it’s too busy to let fearful thoughts slip in. It helps me to have a scripture or song to fill my head with. Every time I’d catch myself worrying, I’d think through the verse or the song and it would shift my focus.
Staying busy also helps keep our minds from worrying.
What you can do to keep busy instead of worrying
If you’re struggling with choosing what to focus on during this time, here are some ideas:
1. Learn a new skill
It’s been amazing how many companies and individuals have responded to this pandemic by providing free resources to help keep people busy. Find an online course to learn something new. Or, YouTube is full of videos that can teach you all kinds of things.
Learn how to cook something new. Learn how to sew or make crafts. Or, build upon a skill that you already have. My daughter’s guitar classes have been canceled, but she can keep herself busy learning guitar online.
There are skills that will help you at work, skills that will help you at home, or simply things you can learn just for fun. Choose what will bring you enjoyment right now. When you’re brain is trying to learn something new, it will be too busy to worry and fear.
2. Get organized
Most of us have a closet, a room, or a few drawers that need to be organized. All this extra time spent at home is a great chance to do all those things. Deep clean your house. Reorganize your desk. Look for ways to make yourself more efficient once life’s pace picks back up again.
3. Play board games
If you’re living with others, then do things together like play board games or card games. These are things that we usually don’t make time for but most of us have lying around. Set your phone down, turn the TV off, and play a game. You’ll laugh together and be distracted from the stressors of the day.
4. Go for walks
Yes, I know that being outside can be a reminder of everything that’s going on, but the fresh air is still good for you. If you can get out on a sunny day, it’s even better. The outdoors and exercise are good for our physical health but it’s also good for fighting anxiety.
5. Read books
I’m not talking ebooks because then you might be tempted to check the news while you’re at it. Look through your bookshelf and find an old book that you haven’t read in a while. Matilda was one of my childhood favorites and it’s still enjoyable to go back and read from time to time.
I’m all for personal development books and books around your occupation, but it can also be nice to choose a fiction book and allow your mind to escape for a little.
6. Look for ways to help others
One of the best ways to take our focus off our own worries is to focus on helping someone else. While the news is full of reports on the negative things that happen around the world, there are tons of stories of people helping each other right now.
People are uniting together to sew face masks for those that need them. Young people are hitting grocery stores for the elderly. Companies are donating food to kids that aren’t getting it from schools right now. Librarians are reading to kids online. Churches are taking meals to the nurses and doctors working long hours.
Our world has millions of needs every day and even more right now. There are so many ways that we can use our skills or knowledge to help others. Not only will this be a blessing to someone else, but it takes your focus off yourself and your worries and shifts it to the good that you can do for another person.
This is what we need more of, not fear and anxiety.
We will come out of this
This might be the first global event that’s impacted our lives, but it’s definitely not the first that’s hit the world. Our lives may be shaken for a little, but this will pass. And, we have the choice to live in fear and worry right now, which will set a negative precedent for ourselves going forward.
Or, we can choose to strengthen ourselves as women right now so we can come out stronger on the other side by learning to overcome fear and anxiety.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and scared right now, don’t be afraid to reach out to me to connect.