I have not blogged in over a month; the state of the world truly did take its toll on me. I have to admit that I did not have the motivation to blog or speak. I just did not have incitement to write. For me, this was awkward because writing is my passion. I had to come to realize that I was in a state of anxiety, dread, worry, and confusion.
Few things motivate escape and avoidance more than the feeling of anxiety, the sense of apprehension and worry that a catastrophic outcome may lie ahead. To be able to name that anxiety is the first step towards finding the remedy. Candidly, I can say that the Pandemic and state of our world has been in has been the source of my anxiety and discomfort. Therefore my remedy is to put words on the screen so that I can feel better and hopefully that you can feel better too.
Let’s address the Coronavirus/COVID-19. We have been affected by this pandemic for a year now. Here we are a year later still with unanswered questions, thousands of lives lost, and uncertainty as to whether there will ever be a degree of normalcy again. Matter of fact the only thing that is certain is the “uncertainty” of this pandemic. We find it when we go to our local grocery store and see faces covered in masks, or when we turn on the news and hear that even our nation’s lead medical professionals don’t have the answers when it comes to stopping the COVID-19 pandemic. The uncertainty is relevant to me daily as I log on to my computer to teach groups of black boxes on the computer screen; I have now been teaching virtually for 9 months and it has caused uncertainty. I am uncertain about the well being of my students, their appearance, and their learning levels. I truly do not know if I am making a difference in their lives. On the flip side, I am watching as my son has totally adjusted to this new normal and seems to prefer staying at home 100% of the time. He does not yearn to engage with other kids and is perfectly fine with attending school virtually and gaming immediately thereafter. My daughter has had a different experience. She gets constant migraines, has shown signs of depression, and seems to have no hope as this is her Senior year. These dynamics of course have made me question myself as a teacher, wife, and a mother. I am uncertain and am anxious from the uncertainty.
Telling someone not to be anxious during this pandemic is like trying to tell babies not to cry when they are hungry. When faced with a challenge such as this, how can one be anxiety free right now? It’s impossible which is something that I had to realize over the last month. The deeper question is “How do we manage this anxiety as this struggling force is still prevalant?” Withdrawing and allowing your feelings to manifest is not the answer. These reactions only strengthen the worry, stress, and inadequate feelings that you may be having. Also placing blame on yourself when it comes to your children’s reactions is not going to get you through this state of unrest either. All you can do is develop what looks like a new normal and create plans for your family that adjust to this situation. The following are a few examples of how I have tried to readjust as I hit rock bottom right after Christmas 2020.
- Put your phone down and turn the TV off – Social and Digital Media does keep us informed. However, this also can ramp up our anxiety and stress levels. It is not healthy to become “glued” to our phones and constantly watching the TV. Keeping the news on constantly is not healthy. Instead of consuming yourself with news about the Pandemic, find another activity to enjoy with your family.
- Do Not Withdraw – This state can cause us to want to hide away and withdraw from the world. Ladies, we are resilient and there are people that need us! Try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay productive and counteractive to alleviate anxiety, stress, and worry. Stay healthy, engaged, and involved in SOMETHING that is FOR YOU!
- Reasonable Eating Habits– Notice I say REASONABLE. What we eat impacts our moods and anxiety levels. If you are constantly snacking, loading up on sugar, and consistently eating carbs and fast food, you are further distressing your body’s system. Therefore, you are further impacting levels of anxiety. Think about it before you eat that row of Oreo’s or down that ice cold Pepsi. You may feel fulfilled for the moment but it will catch up with you later. Also, those “quarantine pounds” that many of us have gained during this time, will contribute to our mental well being as well. Get those off!
- Pray/Intercess – It is important to take time to seek and develop your relationship with God during this time. A part of me strongly believes that everything happens for a reason. Could it be that God is talking to his people? Could it be that God needed us to slow down, think, prepare, and pray? Now is the time to go back to God. He wants you and needs you. Your spiritual development is more than ever important as you are seeking to stay healthy and mentally sane. Remember, God is within YOU. You do not have to be in a building in order to feel his presence. You do not have to be dressed a certain way. God is within you. Talk to him, read your Bible, watch inspritional movies, join a few groups that are Spiritually guided. Bring yourself back to him.
- Stay in Contact with Others – After Christmas I started to feel down because I am so used to being around my entire family. It hit me shortly after just how immensely serious this Pandemic is. We could not meet up for our annual family dinner. There was no potluck in which one family member hosted and we all came from all over the world to meet up for games, dinner, and outings. There was a void left for me. It is important to stay in touch with family as much as possible so that you do not feel emptiness, division, and a loss. Link up via Zoom, be old school and pick up the phone and call your loved ones, host a family game night via skype, start a groupme or a messenger chat. Just find ways to connect with those you love.
- Finding pleasant or purposeful activities to load your day: The least helpful thing we can do during the pandemic is to remain sedentary while spending the day watching the news, scrolling social media, and waiting for the world to return to “normal.
What would a reasonably well-lived day look like during COVID? Rather than living for how things used to be or how we wished they were, we can choose to live now the best way we can. We can ask ourselves:
Who can you connect with over the phone or internet?
What pleasurable and productive tasks can I build into a routine?
Is there some small way I can be helpful or supportive to others?
What I am learning is that anxiety is a challenge. It is a daily challenge and a monster that will constantly attempt to defeat you. We are stronger, more resilient, and ever changing than this. If you find yourself feeling depressed, pick yourself back up and take solace in knowing that yes, “This too shall pass.”
You are Amazing! Be Astonishing! Be Motivated! Be the woman that makes the Devil shake when your feet hit the ground!