5 Ideas For Overcoming Anxiety During The COVID-19 Pandemic
As man-made constructs begin to crumble around us, it’s easy to get caught up in fearful thinking that spreads faster than any virus. We can find ourselves stressing out about issues and details that we truly have no control over.
Yet most of the things we think we can control are out of our hands anyway. However, we can control our response to what’s happening around us.
Choosing a path of faith in the midst of tumultuous times helps keep our focus where it should be, fixed on Jesus. And here are a few actions we can take to maintain a perspective that’s grounded in God’s Word.
1. Pray. As simple and cliché as it sounds, prayer is how we connect to God. And when we’re anxious, there’s nothing more calming than speaking with the one who holds the universe in his hands.
Throughout the ages, God has had plenty of practice dealing with fearful people. And Paul wasn’t blind to that tendency in people either, even passionate followers of Jesus.
He reminds Timothy, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (1 Timothy 1:7, ESV). That is a truth God wants us to remember, which is especially important in times like these.
2. Limit the news. In desperate search for a ray of hope, we can fall into a habit of scouring the internet or flipping through the news channels in search of something positive. But in this era of bitter partisan divide, we get more titillating content than uplifting stories.
While dwelling on things to strengthen our minds in Christ might be more challenging, we must be vigilant to do so. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, the people there were experiencing a difficult time as well.
After urging them not to be anxious about anything, he concludes the passage by exhorting them to consider more carefully what they think about:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8, ESV).
We should heed Paul’s words as much as we ever have right now in an effort to sideline fear.
3. Start a thankfulness journal. Negativity can create a downward spiral that isn’t easy to pull out of if we aren’t careful. The snowball effect of such thought patterns, one rooted in ungratefulness, places us on a path to bitterness.
But cultivating gratitude can utterly redirect your course.
David presses this point in Psalms: “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds” (Psalm 9:1).
Each morning when you wake up, write down three things you’re thankful for—and different things than the day before. As you create a new habit of dwelling on all the blessings in your life, your day will start on an uplifting note.
And you’ll likely start to see just how much you have to be thankful for.
4. Connect with encouraging people. More than ever, we need people in our lives who will help us cast off fear and boldly don courage. And that won’t be easy to do if we’re continuing to engage with fear mongers intent on dragging us in the mire with them.
Solomon’s godly wisdom shines through in Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity.”
Seek out — through phone calls and video chats, of course — friends who breathe life into you and lift you up when you’re down. Linking arms with fellow believers will enable us to stay strong even when we feel like crumbling.
5. Read through Psalms. David’s life was a rollercoaster ride unlike any other in the Old Testament. He went from being anointed at a young age to become the next king of Israel and slaying Giants to being hunted by Saul and his army.
After David assumed the throne, he expanded the kingdom of Israel to its largest point before experiencing a series of setbacks and missteps that destroyed the lives of many of his descendants.
But no matter the situation, David never stopped seeking the Lord. In Psalm 69, David gets brutally honest about his situation in life: “Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.”
And for all the moments of despair David expresses, we also find him praising God in the midst of his dark circumstances. This book serves as a poignant reminder that what we are experiencing might be unique to this day and age, but it’s not novel.
Many generations before us have been through similar situations—and oftentimes, much worse—yet still held fast to their faith. That’s one powerful lesson we can take away from the life of David and his writings.
As we navigate through these times together in isolation, let’s remember that we’re not alone. God is with us no matter what. May His peace be with us as seek Him.