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Facing These Challenging Times - Part 1
Facing these challenging times requires faith and communion with God.
Times like these provide opportunity- we will either let our “created in the image of God” side to our humanity shine,
or we will allow the crisis to amplify the “fallen nature” part of us. All around me I see people rising to the challenge
to care more deeply about their families, their neighbors, and the elderly among them. There is much we can do for
ourselves and others even while “sheltering at home”.
But critical to that task is calming our own anxieties.
Recognize that anxiety is a normal part of times like this. Try to use good coping skills rather than unhealthy ones.
One unhealthy coping skill I have witnessed is the resorting to paranoid thinking. Conspiracy theories abound such
as ones about the government, or a particular political party, because if people can focus on an (false) “enemy” that is
tangible, they avoid facing the reality of what is really going on that is creating their anxiety. That coping mechanism
is a dangerous one in the long run because it will cause people to not take the necessary steps that will truly help
Going far beyond what is necessary to provide for our families in real time is not helpful, either, and can hurt others.
There is nothing wrong with making sure your family has provisions, but we need to keep in mind that there are
others who need to do the same.
Some allow their anxiety to manifest in anger and aggression.
This harms relationships, and it is important to understand that this anger and aggression is really about feeling more
comfortable in a place of false power rather than facing the vulnerable feelings that reside within. We can’t
effectively deal with what we won’t allow ourselves to realize and feel. Others allow their anxiety to cause them to
“check out”, making them unable to really focus on steps they need to take in an organized manner.
SO, this is the time to remember the Serenity Prayer (look up the long version online), share our fears with each other
for support, maybe check out some YouTube videos on anxiety management, or video conference a session with a
therapist if you are struggling and your anxiety is negatively affecting your ability to cope and function. We must
take the steps that are in our power to take.
Do you have elderly relatives or even relatives of friends that are in skilled nursing facilities?
This is a depressing and anxious time for them especially as their vulnerability to this virus is higher, visitation has
been suspended, and they are confined to their rooms with meals being delivered to them. The ability to engage their
daily social activities, and for some, even participate in their physical therapy has vanished. They rely completely on
their facilities to keep them safe. One way you can help is to call them daily, make occasional purchases such as
goodies, books or puzzles from online vendors that are still in operation to be drop-shipped to them, or surprise them
with cards, letters, or pictures drawn by grandkids. Calls from grandkids are especially uplifting.
If you have elderly parents that reside in their own homes, even if you can’t get out to see them or help them, there is
much that can be done to provide support.
Keep them out of the grocery stores by introducing them to apps such as “Instacart”.
If they are not technologically literate, use these apps to order their groceries for them, stay in touch with phone calls
and provide information to clarify what they may misunderstand on the news.
Let them know they are loved and you are looking out for them.
If this has been helpful, stay tuned for the next article which will be posted soon: “Facing These Times: A Survival
Guide to Families at Home Together”.
Andria Sigler-Smalz, M.A