Updated: Sep 1, 2020
As discussed in a previous blog, many of us may be dealing with stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19. Whether the loss of employment, separation from friends and family members, or the possible risk of contracting a disease that the media has labeled the “invisible enemy,” this pandemic has impacted every person on a global scale.
While countries, states, and cities are taking steps to re-open and move forward, these experiences and feelings of anxiety will not just disappear. According to Kim A. Gorgens, Ph.D., ABPP, director of continuing education at the Graduate School of Professional Psychology, University of Denver, “The effects of COVID-19 on the mental and physical health of people worldwide will most likely be felt long-term.” As we all strive to find a “new normal,” it’s important that we learn from this experience and take steps to understand and manage our feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Fear is Normal
Businesses will open back up, and while new precautions or restrictions may be in place, we will once again come in contact with others. For those who may have feelings of anxiety surrounding the risk the coronavirus still carries, remember that “fear is a normal reaction in situations of uncertainty. But sometimes fear is expressed in ways which are hurtful to other people (who.int).”
As we begin to acclimate back to normal day-to-day living, remember:
To be kind to each other. Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 prevent you from being compassionate, respectful, and giving.
That a stranger’s health is just as important as your own. While it’s encouraged to protect yourself and your family, don’t do it at the risk of harming others.
We are all in this together. While you may have lost wages due to the pandemic, the stranger who you didn’t hold the door open for may have lost an older family member to COVID-19. Never assume your sufferings outweigh others.
When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. – Psalm 56:3
Focus on Yourself & What You Can Control
There are many aspects of COVID-19 that we have no control over – how others handle situations, city/state mandates and restrictions, etc. In times of uncertainty and anxiety, focus your attention on the things you can control.
Write down specific fears you have surrounding COVID-19. If you start feeling overwhelmed during this exercise, stop. Seeing them on paper may make them seem less scary. Once you have finished, address each fear; talk with a friend, family member, or counselor, and establish steps or actions you can take to combat each one.
Focus on the things in your life you can solve or change, rather than the circumstances beyond your control. For example, if the fact that your state/city deemed masks are no longer needed in public places is causing you feelings of anxiety, continue to wear your mask while in public. These mandates are in place for the larger population, but you can continue to take precautions that make you feel safe and comfortable.
At Pathfinders Pastoral Care Ministries, our focus is on understanding and meeting the individual needs of those we serve. While we know that we will come out of this stronger than before, we also know the road to get there may be more difficult for some. For additional resources regarding mental health, we encourage you to visit our website.