How are you? How are you managing your day, your thoughts, your diet, your exercise, your responsibilities? I admit, I just ‘did’ these things as I was caught up in the busy-ness of ‘life before’. I remember oh-so-many-times thinking, ‘If I only had a couple of unstructured days, I could get caught up.’
Well, now I’ve lost count of the number of unstructured days I’ve had, and I’m NOT caught up. Rather, sometimes I feel like I’m in the dryer being tossed around and unable to get my feet solidly under me.
Can you relate?
I propose, even those who are carrying on as if nothing unusual is happening are processing all of this at some level. They might be the ones who crash the hardest when faced with the realities of this pandemic in their own family.
I know, especially during the night, I get these waves of anxiety, what-ifs, grief, panic that try to overtake me.
What do you do when these thoughts creep in (or hit you like an avalanche)? [We will come back to this question soon.]
Health at all times, including during COVID-19
Health is multifaceted, and to be truly healthy, each area needs some attention.
- Physical health – This includes your diagnoses, your fitness, your strength, and your immune system.
- Mental health – This includes diagnoses, anxiety, depression, and panic.
- Emotional health – This includes your coping mechanisms, your reactions, your strategies to manage stress.
- Spiritual health – This includes your source of hope, your views about a higher power, your connection with your spiritual side.
- Social health – This includes your relationships, your support network, those you care for and those who care for you.
I encourage you to take an inventory. In the past few days, how have you nurtured each of these areas of your health? Which have you given the most attention? Which have you ignored? Which need the most attention today?
There are MANY well-designed studies that have demonstrated the importance of each of these aspects of health. Especially now, during this pandemic, each part needs very deliberate strategies.
Attitude and Health
These studies have repeatedly demonstrated the negative health effects of negativity – fear, holding grudges, blame (conspiracy theories), isolation (huge right now), oppression, resentment, self-pity, rejection, and holding on to negative bad assumptions. There are TOO MANY negative messages in our society right now. Letting these rule your thoughts and emotions is directly damaging to your immune system and your physical health. It’s also damaging to your relationships (social health), spiritual health, and mental health.
In comparison, staying engaged, caring for other people, optimism (which is a choice), having supportive friends/family, maintaining an ability to bounce back (takes some real purposeful effort), learning good conflict management skills, and belief in a higher power or other source of hope are all linked to a healthier immune system, overall well-being, better health, and even longer life.
So, how can you use this knowledge to make a plan for when the waves of anxiety, grief, and worry hit you?
What do you do when these thoughts creep in (or hit you like an avalanche)?
It is normal, especially in these times, for this to happen sometimes several times per day.
So, should we let it happen? Ride the waves?
Should we chide ourselves for being so weak?
Do we need strategies?
My view is we need strategies. This is a time when we need to exercise our God muscles very deliberately. I have to admit I’ve not memorized scripture a lot in the past. I’ve been familiar with scripture and generally know what is found where, but not to the degree to be able to recite scripture.
That all changed when I went through a very difficult time a few years ago. I would wake up in the night with rapid-fire negative thoughts, imagined conversations, what-ifs, anger, frustration, and such. It felt like I was being attacked in my own mind.
That’s when trusted friends and years of hearing the message sunk in and I started memorizing scripture. I still haven’t memorized as much as I would like, but I’ve memorized some verses that have incredibly deep meaning to me. They feel like weapons I can recite over and over when I’m attacked in the night. I cling to these scriptures and keep them ready at all times.
I’ve since had opportunity to talk with various groups about stress and hope and health. So many people have described similar strategies and what a vital lifeline this is for them. None have been ‘perfect people’ who just naturally have it all together. They, too, have gone through gut-wrenching difficult times and learned the value of being battle ready.
So, rather than sink into the pain and negativity, rather than chide yourself for being susceptible, stand up and take up your weapons. Let’s go to battle with the ONE true source of victory!
My key verses:
Lead me by your truth and teach me,
for you are the God who saves me.
All day long I put my hope in you.
I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
What are your strategies? I would love to hear from you. And, if your group would like to take this deeper, ‘Grace & Health in Complex Times’ is a workshop I offer. It is a chance to connect health, hope, and healing during these very difficult days. We take frequent breaks, interact a lot (even virtually), and walk away with very tangible skills to care for ourselves and others. Let’s talk.