Managing Anxiety in Uncertain Times

In last week’s blog, our Charis House Therapist Karen Cox offered some guidance to help everyone struggling with anxiety and fear during the coronavirus pandemic. This week, Ms. Karen gives us some specific activities that will help us feel better prepared and able to face the uncertainty of these unprecedented times.

▸ What are some routine, everyday activities you recommend to help keep anxiety in check?

Self-care is important in the midst of any crisis or stressful situation. I have had a prompting to take an approach through this current pandemic that I haven’t heard discussed by many others.

I think it is very important right now to do what I can to optimize my physical readiness to meet up with this virus. I am nutritionally aware with an emphasis on increasing my consumption of both fruit and protein. I am aware of the importance of remaining physically active and continuing to physically strengthen. While preparing for this virus, most of us have been focused on gathering physical supplies and food. Those things are certainly important, but this is a virus, therefore the best defense is going to be a strong immune system and physical health!

We know that underlying conditions are a significant contributing risk. Some of those can’t be managed. However, some health conditions like diabetes and heart disease, can definitely be impacted by nutrition and exercise. When we are faced with a crisis, we tend to accumulate and nosh on junk food – “comfort food”. We need to think differently here. If you know an enemy is coming to attack your body, the best way to prepare is to be as strong as possible when it hits – and for this enemy, that means proper nutrition.

▸ What recommendations do you have to help calm the feelings of panic and dread that seem to be woven into the fabric of our everyday lives right now? What can we do to focus on healthy habits instead of creating (or falling back into) destructive ones?

In this part of the country, we are blessed to be in the best season for beautiful weather. Getting fresh air each day is important, and circulating fresh air through your house is beneficial. Open the windows. Sit outside in the mornings and evenings. Find the beauty in God’s creation.

From a mental health perspective, self-care (beyond the recommendations for rest, nutrition, exercise) is going to be individualized. Ask yourself, “What is the one thing that I enjoy — that when I do it, I feel refreshed?” Then, find a way to do that thing! Every emotion we have is driven by thoughts and underlying beliefs. I have learned that you can’t “not think”. You have to trick your mind into thinking about something else. Scripture even tells us directly what we should be thinking about …that which is pure, righteous, just, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8).

If you are feeling anxious, do this test:

  • Is the way I’m thinking pure? Is it even true?
  • Is it righteous? Is it God’s perspective on the situation?.
  • Does the way that I’m thinking bring Him praise? Is it glorifying the crisis or my God — Who is above it all and has gone before us?

I would strongly recommend limiting your time on social media and television right now. You need to remain informed, because things change daily; but there is much information, and most of it is not given to us from a Scriptural or Godly perspective. Be sure that you are getting your news only from reliable resources, such as the CDC and the daily Presidential and governmental briefings.

This is a great opportunity to do that thing that you’ve always said, “If I only had the time, I would love to ____________”. Now you have the time! What is that thing for you? Learning to play guitar? Trying some of those Pinterest recipes that you’ve been collecting for the last ten years? Starting an herb garden? Focus your time on constructive, rather than destructive, things.

Perspective is the key to getting through this unprecedented time in our history. Appreciate the blessing of time with family. (Even if they are on your last nerve, you are making memories and writing stories to be told for years to come.) Our lives have completely lost all structure. Everything we are doing right now is a process of learning new habits and developing new systems and structure. That is uncomfortable and can be uneasy, but find the adventure in doing so.

Developing a gratitude list is a great way to shift perspective. Make a list of the blessings and things you are thankful for, and have it visible so that you can add to it and use it as a reminder throughout your day. It is even more fun to partner with your family to identify your gratitude list. Make a game of it! For instance, “The person who has the longest list by 4:30 p.m. gets to choose our carryout meal for the week (or day).“

Finally, I would like to say this about anxiety. There are types of anxiety and levels of anxiety that just need medical help and intervention. If you are overwhelmed or feel unable to function, and that feeling has lasted more than a week or two, then contact your physician and see what options you have for evaluation.

✥ Karen has written a book, “Promises For Prodigals,” available on Amazon. The book includes 460 scriptural promises for prodigals and is meant to encourage those who have a prodigal in their own family.

✥ The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse program for females. The program is designed in 3 phases, each offering stages of recovery that provide the necessary tools for a practical transition into a new lifestyle free of addiction. The faith-based recovery program addresses the client’s personal relationship with God as the foundation for healing and wholeness. It requires a willingness to change and adhere to a controlled, strict and disciplined environment, allowing life-changing experiences to occur. There is no fee to apply.

✥ To learn more about the Charis House, click here or contact Debbe Jefcoat at (850) 475-1116 or DJefcoat@MinistryVillage.org.

✥ To donate to the Charis House or any Ministry Village program, click here.

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