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How to cope with Anxiety & Stress during COVID-19 Pandemic


 

What is anxiety?

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

“Actually, for many people, anxiety is a warning they are not dealing with stress effectively” (Videbeck, 2013, p.241). As we take in this huge impact and change in our lives, the uncertainty builds up stress. Overthinking (most of the time negative thoughts) and fear add to stress. All these factors bundle up and cause anxiety which leads to physical side effects. It is normal to feel anxiety and it is something we can manage to avoid greater health problems and feeling constant anxiety. On the other hand, COVID-19 is something we cannot control and will not magically disappear, sadly it is something we will have to live with.


Tips for managing stress include the following:


1. Keep a positive attitude and believe in yourself.

2. Accept there are events you cannot control.

3. Communicate assertively with others: talk about your feelings to others and express your feelings through laughing, crying, and so forth.

4. Learn to relax.

5. Exercise regularly.

6. Eat well-balanced meals.

7. Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol.

8. Get enough rest and sleep.

9. Set realistic goals and expectations and find an activity that is personally meaningful.

10. Learn stress management techniques, such as relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation; practice them as part of your daily routine. (Videbeck, 2013, p.241)


“Learning anxiety management techniques and effective methods for coping with life stresses is essential for overall improvement in life quality” (Videbeck, 2013, p.241). Take time to reflect and set what you want to change. What have you been doing to manage stress? Be aware of what is triggering episodes of anxiety. What is causing you to feel this way? I will give you examples that you can modify and apply.


1. If watching the news is a trigger, then limit or eliminate it and instead watch something you enjoy.


2. If you feel alone, call your family and friends, we are all in the same circumstances! Do not want to talk? Journal your thoughts and feelings.


3. We are not used to being home all day and every day. Want to go out? Enjoy the outdoors! Take out that bike that has been in your storage for years and go for a ride.


4. Do not stop setting goals. What is something you wanted to do but never had the time to accomplish? Been wanting to change the color of your bedroom? Now is the time because you have plenty.


In the Christian perspective, it is important to believe/trust in God and meditate in his word daily. A study done states, “However, qualitative findings show that Centering Prayer had a positive impact on health outcomes. A number of participants reported decreased stress and anxiety within the context of a deepened relationship with God” (Ferguson, Willemsen, & Castaneto, 2010).


We cannot control our surroundings, but God is in control. I encourage you to let go and let God. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials” (1 Peter 1:6). We can leave all our worries, all our fears, all our thoughts to God. When you find yourself in going through tough days use guided imagery from tip 10 and remember how good God has been in your life. Picture that day your child was born. Picture the day you got married. How did you feel then? Let the positive emotions flow and let yourself feel how you felt on those good days. How many stories can you tell me of days of hardship? Are you still going through those same troubles? More than likely those troubles are in the past, and what we are going through will soon pass.


Sometimes it is hard to talk to others because of gossip and judgment. Express everything you feel through prayer! “I sought the LORD, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears” (Psalms 34:4). “…stress is released as a side effect both in prayer and in daily life. This is due to the lessening of one’s emotional pain and increasing trust in God, which brings healing” (Ferguson et al, 2010). How often are you setting aside time to pray? Use this time to strengthen your relationship with God and benefit from the healing, strengthening, and stress relief it brings.


Staying up late and thinking of what can and cannot happen brings stress. Before going to bed, put away your phone, and use that time to pray and talk to your spouse/children. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). All the situations we go through God wants us to look for him, rely on him, and give our all to him. God uses these situations and lets us know that he is here, he always has been, and will be here forever. “The paradox of this study is that stress itself proved to be a gift from God, leading many of the participants to the source of their longing in an experiential relationship with the divine, where they found rest and healing” (Ferguson et al, 2010). God has been good and continues to be good even during this pandemic. Rest in Jesus, you are not alone.


 

References

Videbeck, S. L. (2013). Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing. (6th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer Health

Ferguson, J.K., Willemsen, E.W., Castaneto, M.V. (2010). Centering Prayer as a Healing Response to Everyday Stress: A Psychological and Spiritual Process. Pastoral Psychology, 59(3), 305-329. doi: 10.1007/s11089-009-0225-7

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