By Mildred Gerner
Everyone is impacted by COVID-19. All the uncertainties and adjustments require a lot of extra energy. I’m stressed-out. And I’m reacting with irritability. Several days ago, my rowdy young adult sons came over for dinner with their families (group size <10). Their vigor got under my skin and the words hurled out of my mouth, “I have no patience with you right now!!” Their wives were watching, and one of them quietly stated, “I think we’re all kinda on edge.”
What are your stress reactions during this crisis?
- Working harder and longer
- Turning to alcohol and junk food to take the edge off
- Worrying about your health and financial future
- Moodiness and intolerance
- Criticizing and assigning blame
- Denial that the new virus is a serious threat.
Beneath the stress reactions are emotions we may be neglecting. Let’s think about what those may be, remembering that feelings are neither right, nor wrong; they just are.
So, how have you been feeling?
Lonely? Social distancing and quarantine are by far a vacation. Humans need to be compassionately touched by the words, eyes and hands of another so we can sustain and thrive. Whose touch are you missing? If possible, reach out and touch them first with a call or text.
Baffled and angry? Every day, huge decisions that affect a lot of people are being made by only a few. We have no control over some of the things happening now…. empty shelves in the store, kids home from school, tumbling stock market, working from home or losing a job. The adjustment to all of this can feel exasperating. About what do you feel frustrated? Make a list of what’s beyond your control (ex. other people’s choices) and release it into God’s hands. List also what is squarely within your control (ex. your attitude, the information you listen to, the cleanliness of your kitchen). Manage it to the best of your ability, with the help of God.
Sad and disappointed? It’s OK to admit this situation is upsetting. Plans are cancelled and hopes for the future are untenable. Everyone is suffering losses and no one can stop it from happening. What losses are you and your loved ones incurring? Pour out your heart to Jesus in prayer; He’s there with empathy and intercession. Open up to a safe friend who’ll listen without giving you a lecture or a pep talk.
Afraid? COVID 19 is multiplying human insecurities. There’s no shame in having anxiety during a situation like this. Author and researcher Brene` Brown recently said, “This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability.” Some of us (or our loved ones) have underlying medical conditions that make the new coronavirus potentially life-threatening. Many of us don’t know when we’ll get to be with our long-distance family and friends again. A lot of us are scared if enough income is on the way. Or whether or not we’ll have the mental tenacity to handle life as it drastically changes. What are your fears? List them on paper and talk to God about them.
Joy and Gratitude? Crisis situations open us to healthier perspectives. We can find fresh joy in the little things we once took for granted, like chirping birds, funny tweets, drive-through dinner. On a larger scale, communal crisis propels us into new opportunities for connection, creativity and growth. What’s bringing you joy in the midst of the pandemic? What breakthrough opportunities are you grateful to see happening?
God’s promises enclose us when we’re all kinda on edge. In Christ, we find a place of reliance.
- Lamentations 3:23-24. “‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
- Romans 8:38-39 “I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.
- I Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
All scripture quotations are from The Message