By Becca Jones, MA LPC, Director of Counseling & Wellness
We want to acknowledge the stress of a global pandemic and our lives changing so quickly. In this time, we are all experiencing more anxiety than normal. Attached are some simple steps you can take to manage your anxiety. These are not easy fixes but ways for us to acknowledge this is a time of suffering for many, to be gentle to ourselves, and to move through this time with as much agency and hope as we can muster. And if you need more support, please reach out! Contact us at (503) 251-5311 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stick to a Schedule
One of the things we need to balance the chaos of life is the structure of a daily schedule. Right now, much of our lives have changed, including our schedule, and much of what is happening feels out of control. It can be important to acknowledge our desire for control during these times and learn to honor that need in a way that is possible. Creating a daily schedule and engaging in simple things like getting up at a normal time, getting dressed each day, and sticking to a routine can give us a little bit of structure to help decrease the sense of chaos in this season.
As cliché as it may sound, taking time to journal and reflect on this time can be a productive and healthy way to process. We are not sure the outcome of what life will look like after this or when our quarantined life will come to an end. With so much unknown, journaling can help you get the thoughts that might be swirling around out onto paper and can help you synthesize and integrate the thoughts and feelings you are having in order to keep them from stealing your awareness and robbing you of what is in front of you, whether that is school, work, family, or just simply caring for yourself.
Limit Media Consumption
When we watch the news during stressful times, this triggers the stress response in our brain and pumps chemicals into our bodies that are meant to help us ready for a fight. If all those chemicals are pumped into our system all while we are stuck in our homes, the effect will wear on us. While it may not be wise to keep your head in the sand and limit access to necessary information, think about limiting the amount of time you check the news, for instance, once a day, or the source of news, like checking in with the CDC versus media coverage. This can help prevent unnecessary stress.
Move Your Body
Staying active, in whatever way possible for you, is an incredible tool for fighting off stress and anxiety. Just ten minutes of walking outside each day can prevent stress from turning into more severe mental health issues. There are also lots of free resources like yoga online or workouts on YouTube to check out. You can even do a workout with a friend or family member over Zoom or FaceTime.
There is no rule book for how to survive a pandemic. This is hard and there are no “right” feelings, reactions, or ways to go about this. In this time of suffering, understanding the compassionate example of God, who promises “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you” (Isaiah 54:10).
Go Back to the Basics
In the face of things that leave us feeling helpless (and sometimes hopeless) we often need to return to the basics: drink plenty of water, eat three healthy meals a day, try to get enough sleep, reach out to a friend at least once a day, and take it one step at a time.
Meditate on Scripture
These times are unprecedented. So much is unknown and uncertain. What is not, is the steadfast love of God. Meditating on Scripture can be a great tool for cultivated peace during uncertainty because we have a God who does not change. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you” (Isaiah, 26:3).
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Lastly, if you are struggling, reach out. Whether that is to a family, friend, pastor, or professional resource.