Uncertainty. One of my least favorite things. Those of you who know me know how much I like routine. I thrive on sameness and predictability and I don’t do well with change. So enter COVID-19, and this world of constant uncertainties that it brings, and I have found myself more anxious over these last several weeks than I have ever been in my life. My work hours have been cut back and I worry about how this will turn out financially. When I do go to work, my job is not what it used to be, and I find myself constantly frustrated that I cannot take care of my patients the way that I want to. I am still race walking, but there is no familiar routine to my training without a race on the calendar to train for. Instead of enjoying my training I find myself constantly questioning if I am doing too much and wearing myself out for no reason, if I am doing too little and loosing the fitness that I had gained, or if I should pause my training and use the time for a recovery break. Instead of the usual school and activity routine with my kids we are trying to navigate the new normal of online schooling and Zoom-meeting dance classes. All of this to say, there has been a lot of change going on around here.
As I have started to actually process my anxiety in the midst of this uncertainty, I thought I would share some things that I have found helpful:
Know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). In a world where there is so much change and uncertainty, focus on what is staying the same. God, His character, and His perfect plan for humanity are never going to change. I find great comfort in reading God’s promises in the Bible and knowing that they are unchanging and unfailing regardless of what is happening around me.
Continue to exercise. Even if I am not training for any upcoming competitions, exercising is a great way to cope with anxiety. It helps me keep in my daily routine too. It gives me a chance to refocus my training and remind myself why I am doing what I am doing; to train purely for the enjoyment of it, the ability to challenge myself, and the meaning and value that it adds to my day.
Cultivate relationships. We were made to be social people, so taking time to intentionally connect with others during the quarantine is important. It has been great catching up with friends by phone calls, letters, and video chats.
Practice mindfulness. Being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations helps to prevent anxiety from taking over. It can be as simple as pausing for a few moments to focus on the rising and falling sensation of your breath. Or investing time to practice self-directed or guided mindfulness meditations.
Be grateful. One thing I have focused on during this time of quarantine is all that I have to be grateful for. Sometimes it helps to write it down or share out loud as a family.
Remember to laugh. It is true that laughter is often the best medicine. My husband says he knows that I am in trouble when I stop laughing at his bad jokes. So when he asked me the other day, entirely serious and out of the blue, “Do you think we have a shortage of magic wands around here?” I don’t think he got too offended that I just started laughing uncontrollably. Is there a certain quota of magic wands that a family of six is supposed to have? If we had a few more magic wands do you think we wouldn’t be in this mess? I am still not sure how to answer his question, but it feels good to keep laughing.
I am still in control of the choices I make, and I am working to be more deliberate with how I spend my time and what I choose to focus on. It is still a struggle every day, but I am grateful for the progress I have made and am settling for the little wins along the way. We are all in this together, please comment what you have found helpful to cope during this time.