Calm amid the Angst

When this is all said and done- I wonder how we will talk about this time period. What will we talk about? What stories might we tell our children and grandchildren about the pandemic of 2020? I imagine we will tell them of the heroes, the ones who risked their lives on the front lines. How so many health care workers were willing to risk exposure, caring for the sick who lay in hospital beds, dying alone, with no family allowed to be there. We might tell of how some laid down their lives for strangers. How some of the sickest gave up ventilators, breathing their last, so another could have breath.

We might remember with fondness the read-alouds done online. The bedtime stories read aloud via FB live. The church services streamed online. The connections through Zoom. The courses and videos that were released at discounts or free to help us all cope through a weird, strange, unknown and tough time. We might tell of buying groceries for strangers or singing happy birthday in the front yard. I think we will speak of the kindness and the hope that people lifted high, of the gentle reminders to love hard and care for our neighbor. I hope we can tell of how when life slowed down, we suddenly thought more about what really matters in life. That we considered if this is the end, would we be okay with where we were at? Or what would we wish to change? Were we comfortable with what we did with the time we were given? I hope we can tell of the lessons we learned. Of how we dealt with these uncharted waters and how we lived changed after that. Because when life and death hung on the line, our previously clouded vision became crystal clear with what really mattered.

So, with that, how are you doing? Holding out okay? It’s hard. This unknown and constant change and the many voices choosing sides and theories. I’m convinced this has brought both the best and the worst out of all of humanity.

I find myself slipping into anxiety sometimes. I catch myself wondering what our world will look like when this is over, and who will be missing. It’s real, and it’s not easy. I never really thought of myself as an anxious person. (It is possible that I’m lacking in the self awareness department, or maybe this has brought it on in a different way for me than ever before.)

I don’t feel like I have enough experience to even write about anxiety and I don’t claim to understand it. But I do believe it is real, and if you are someone who struggles with it on a regular basis, I am so sorry. Reach out. You are not alone and you are not weak. In fact, you are strong, I promise, stronger than you know. I’ve not personally dealt with panic attacks, but I do have empathy for those who do. It’s no joke and it’s a hard road to walk. I also believe that there are ways through your anxiety. There is hope. Don’t try to fight it alone. There’s no shame in asking for help. I’m going to share a few things that have helped to ground me in this season of uncertainty when those thoughts nibble away at my brain and heart, coaxing me to worry about the future or wonder who is right and who is wrong in this mess. Stuff like that leaves me weak and afraid and not a very nice human to live with.

Disclaimer- this is not another ‘to-do’ or ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ list. Just some ideas to help cope. Overwhelm is real and the last thing I want to do is add more stress to anyone’s life.

Worship music- check out Rend Collective’s song ‘I choose to worship’. I’ll add the YouTube link at the bottom. I’ve had this song on repeat since discovering it. The lyrics are timely for a time like this. And they ground me over and over again when all feels like chaos. Create a playlist of calming music that declares Truth over your life over and over. Listen to it a lot.

Reading the Word- the Bible didn’t use to feed me when I read it. I didn’t know why. God has been restoring that and now I can’t get enough of His Word. Through so much unknown there is much comfort to be found in the Bible. The words and life of Jesus. The Psalms. There’s good stuff in there. Find a simple truth promise and speak it over your life again and again.

Connecting with family and friends- virtually of course. But it’s been fun to use this time to connect more with friends and family. Whether you deal with a crazy time zone difference or you live almost next door, video chatting is a gift.

Creating something- ha, my hobby horse. But really. I didn’t start anything artsy till almost a year ago. Why? Because I didn’t believe I could. I loved art. But I was frozen when it came to trying to create. I’m forever grateful for the people in my life who pushed me to try anyway. It’s been healing. It’s been fun. It’s been a learning experience. Try it! It’s a skill to be learned, and I believe everyone can create something. It doesn’t have to be with paints or pencils. Just create. It’s good space to be in.

“Voyaging” March 2020. Basic Acrylic Pour- Pours are fun because there’s a lot of movement and you have limited control over the finished product. I tried my first pour when I was needing to make the decision whether to leave or stay due to Covid19. It didn’t make my decision for me, but it did put me in a better head space.

Cooking- cook up that comfort dish. Make an extra one for your neighbors, if they like your style of comfort food, that is! Cross culturally that will look different. But cook. It’s a creative outlet too. Don’t forget to include some healthy nutritional meals in your creative cooking!

Work out- this one has to be here because of the one above. I could easily just cook away and eat all the comfort foods. So because of this. I must exercise. It also is really good for emotional well-being. Try it. You’ll be glad you did. There are free workouts to follow on YouTube where all you need is a good pair of shoes. Start small. You got this!

Do the simple mundane tasks- doing the next right thing that’s in front of you. No matter how tiny. Thanks, Emily P Freeman for this phrase. “Do the next right thing.” I use that a lot especially when I go into overwhelm.

Breathe- and know that tomorrow is another day. Sometimes it seems worse at night and by morning it’s not quite so bad anymore. Take some deep breaths and try to sleep. Drink some relaxing tea while reading a light book in the evening. Or take a time out with a bubble bath.

Listen to audio books- if you have kids, find something that you all enjoy. Adventures in Odyssey is offering a 4 week free trial via their Club Membership. Andrew Peterson has been reading through his books The Wingfeather Saga. He finished Book 1 and just started the second book a few days ago. You can find it via FB or YouTube. It’s great listening for both kids and adults.

Find someone to love on- sometimes getting the focus off me and looking out for ways to serve others is the exact thing I need to pull me out of the dark. Get creative, it doesn’t have to be big or amazing or cost a lot of money to make someone’s day and remind them they aren’t alone.

Have a good cry- I’m still learning how this one works. It’s okay to take some time out and grieve the losses that this season has brought. All of us have had something unexpectedly change. You have permission to be sad about that.

We will get through this, one step at a time. I don’t know what it will look like when it’s all said and done. For now, the thing that is required, is to live today. And so, let’s turn off the news, quiet the noise in our heads, and just live today, and let’s remember to extend grace for ourselves and for those around us. None of us really know how to walk through this. So let’s do it together, one day at a time. Could we link arms (figuratively of course,) instead of finger pointing and judgement casting?

I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what works for you. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few things I’ve found that can help reset me in the middle of the mess. I need them, because once stress and anxiety take the wheel for me, well, I’m not a such a nice person to be around. And even though I’m pretty much in ‘quarantine,’ I still have roommates so…

Like I mentioned above, I in no way understand the complexity of anxiety. This isn’t necessarily going to work in every situation and it definitely isn’t professional advice. Take what helps, leave what doesn’t. And if you don’t remember anything else from this post, remember this. You are not alone. There is help. Reach out. Don’t suffer in silence. We will find a way through.

Rend Collective – I choose to Worship-

“I build my altar right here and now
In the midst of the darkest night it won’t burn out
For You are perfect, no matter what
In the joy of the suffering I’ll sing it loud
I will praise You through the fire
Through the storm and through the flood
There is nothing that could ever steal my song
In the valley You are worthy, you are good when life is not
You will always and forever be my song.”

2 thoughts on “Calm amid the Angst

  1. So much good advice. This is a lot of practical wisdom that all of us can find helpful, especially now. I have struggled with anxiety- a couple years ago I went through a bout of anxiety – difficult, sleepless and feeling trapped.. It is very real. I wouldn’t have admitted it until I experienced it myself. I felt powerless and helpless. It seemed like, at least for me, the anxiety was at a deep, almost sub-conscious level. Thanks for writing this, Jan – all your tips are right on point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anxiety is a weird thing. And I think I understand what you mean about it being at a deep, subconscious level. I thinks that’s one of the reasons it can be so difficult to deal with. It’s hard to name it.


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