COVID-19! Can you feel the fear that word brings? In this post, COVID-19, I will show you 12 proven ways you can push back fear!
Like it or not, COVID-19 will be a part of the news cycles for weeks and months ahead. It is what it is. But, as for me, I refuse to waste too much time getting “the latest update.” How about you? My friend, Dr. Tom Barret has some thought-provoking zingers from time to time. A few years ago, we shared a stage and one of his lines that stuck in my mind like the caliche clay of southern New Mexico, or the beautiful red mud in Middle Georgia. Here it is,
“Don’t get distracted by the bugs on your windshield if you do you are going to have a wreck!
Friends, the threat is real, as we have been given clear, scientifically-based things to do. Wash your hands, as we used to say in the Army, “maintain proper intervals” (social distancing), hang around your living space, only go out for necessary items.
You get it, I know.
With all that is happening, I wanted to share with you some proven, scientific, and biblical principles that will help you keep your stuff together, and who knows, maybe help someone else!
Ever wondered what you could do to increase your resilience and feel more connected to life?
Dr. Dennis Charney is the dean of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. The sixty-seven year- old is the king of resilient studies in North America. Also, he survived a shotgun blast from attempted murder in 2016. In his years of research and collaboration, and most recently in his recovery, he has developed what he calls the Resiliency Prescription. Here is a brief outline of it, as well as some scriptures that support his points.
1. Practice optimism – some people are “born optimists,” others are “trained optimists.” You would think this would be a no-brainer for people of faith. Studies show that resilient people have a realistic appraisal of what is going on around them, but they choose to believe that tough times will pass. The key is to stay positive and hopeful while confronting the reality of a given situation.
On a personal level, I am concerned about the impact of COVID-19, socially, spiritually, and financially, but at the same time, in my heart of hearts, we are going to come out of this crisis stronger.
For the record, when you practice optimism, you are not being unrealistically positive, but you are being in a state of mind—a way of thinking and behaving that is strength-based and forward-looking.
2. Find a resiliency role model – someone who has done it. It can be a biblical character, a historical figure, or someone you respect. If you have ever read any good stories from the Iliad to a Marvel Comic or stories from Scripture, you have been exposed to resiliency models. It is what epic literature is all about. A good person falls on bad times, gets tested, almost gives up, a guide comes along and points the way, the subject of the story overcomes the challenges, and becomes a model for others.
Who models resilience for you? If they are alive, send them a handwritten note thanking them for their input.
3. Develop a moral compass and firm beliefs. For me, the Old and New Testament provide a clear direction. After all, if we could live by the Ten Commandments, life would be different. Instead, we live more like it was the Ten Suggestions, picking and choosing which ones we want to follow.
Joshua 1:7-8 has been a favorite verse of Scripture for millions of Jews and Christians for thousands of years and best summed up the importance of having a moral compass and firm beliefs.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning to the right or left. Then you will be successful in all that you do. Study this book of instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all that you do.” (NLT)
Faith is an essential part of this. It means that you are learning to trust that God has a plan for your life and will look after you. You have a growing belief that a power more significant than you will guide you through the storms of life. You are learning to see the Lord as an active participant in your life.
4. Practice generosity and kindness – an unselfish concern for others, being kind-hearted, philanthropic. One way of doing this is to say things like please and thank you. Another way is to find a way to share your resources with causes you care about. The greedy side of human nature has been part of the daily news cycle, particularly in regards to toilet paper, and other commodities. I have to confess, I did get a big smile when COSTCO and other outlets suspended their liberal return policies regarding toilet paper and other things that people have hoarded. If you bought it, you get to keep it for a long time.
As for us, I always try to keep some stock on hand. This week one of Angie’s 78-year-old friends asked her to do some shopping for her. Angie could not find any TP, so we shared it with her.
Folks, this is a great time to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
5. Develop acceptance and cognitive flexibility, meaning the ability to learn and adapt your knowledge and thinking to new situations. One of the lessons I have had to learn the hard way is if you refuse to be flexible, you can become broken.
6. Face your fears and learn to control negative emotions. I’d refer back to the past several articles on overcoming fear. We are all stressed more than we were two or three weeks ago. Acknowledge it, embrace it, and learn ways to manage it, but don’t pretend like it is not there. Why? If you don’t handle it, it will take a profound price from you.
7. Build an ever-expanding tool chest of active coping skills to manage stress. I cannot begin to tell you how important this is. One of the exciting things about our modern-day technology is the wide variety of things you can use to help manage your stress. One of my favorites is Tactical Breather. Inc Magazine has an additional 13 Best Apps for Managing Stress.
8. Establish and maintain a supportive social network to help you. My workgroup and I are scattered all over the US, and we are all now WAH specialists (Work at Home) one of the things we are doing is having Zoom Team Meetings twice a week, on our computers and smart devices. Cameras are on as we check in on each other.
Personally, I am checking in with friends on FB, email, and writing handwritten notes.
Dr. George Bonanno’s research, in his book The Other Side of Sadness, points out one of the ways that people and cultures move beyond trauma, natural disasters, depression, and other life events is through a community, family, and other networks of people that give us courage, motivation, and shared history to move forward. His research also reveals how important family, friends, and community are in dealing with depression.
9. Stay physically fit. Dr. Oz suggests starting out with walking 30 minutes a day. It is a start. While we are pretty much in a restrictive environment due to social distancing, when you can get outside and walk around Spring is arriving, take a moment to smell it, feel it, and experience it.
10. Laugh deep and often. Whether it be some “Old School Comedy” like the Three Stooges or more modern comedians like Steve Harvey, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, Chonda Pierce, Robin Williams, Jenna Kim Jones, and Michael Jr., be sure to find something or someone that can help you keep life on the light side.
I am proud of my southern heritage, one of the things that I have learned to appreciate over the years is the way some folks use humor. Please check out Ginger Billy’s Video! It should give you a great laugh.
As sad as the loss of Robin Williams is, his humor and zany impressions, and his care for people will live on through the volume of work that he created over his life.
Proverbs 17:22 – “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” (NLT)
11. Wash Your Hands! Wipe Down Your Surfaces!
12. THINK! St. Paul says Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
Dr. Charney shared the most-surprising insight of his career is “the hidden capacity of most people to rebound from adversity.”
One ancient Latin phrase says it best, Plus est en Vous.” There is more in you!”
Lean into life today.
And take a moment to reflect on one of Saint Patrick’s famous prayers.
“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
Reprinted with permission from John Thurman.
John Thurman M.Div., M.A., is a Licensed Mental health Professional, Author, Speaker, and Certified Corporate Crisis Response Specialist who lives with his wife Angie in Albuquerque, NM. In addition, he is the Director of Covert Mercy Inc., a ministry that provides Stress Management Consulting and Training for ministry leaders and missionaries serving in the North Africa Middle East area. Learn more at JohnThurman.net
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