Simple ways to deal with coronavirus (COVID-19) anxiety

Rocio Madera

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues its global spread and the number of cases continues to increase, anxiety related to the outbreak is also on the rise. Although feeling anxiety in response to a threat is a normal human reaction, sustained high anxiety can worsen things.

Jesus said to his apostles, “Peace be with you” (John 20:21). God brings peace into our souls; we just have to let him.

Let’s forget about the coronavirus for a few minutes and try to lower the level of stress accumulated during these past few days. The following suggestions can help you deal with coronavirus anxiety and calm yourself.

Connect with your loved ones

Connect with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email. It really helps to feel the strength of your connections to your friends and loved ones, even though you may not be with them in person.

Limit social media and news exposure

Anxiety can build from media exposure. Avoid updates that could be feeding your coronavirus anxiety. Pick one or two trusted sources that you’re going to rely on, and check for updates only twice a day. Make sure you make those checks brief. A friend post on social media, which may not even be accurate, can increase your anxiety, and anxiety can essentially be contagious.

Stick with sources of credible medical information, so you can avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes.

Don’t underestimate yourself

Many people fear how they will manage if the virus shows up at home, work or at school. They worry how they would cope with a quarantine, a daycare closure or a lost paycheck. Human minds are good at predicting the worst. However, research shows that people tend to overestimate how badly they’ll be affected by negative events and underestimate how well they’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.

Focus on controlling only what you can

Stop trying to control things that are not in your hands. We cannot control how widely the coronavirus outbreak will spread, if our child’s school will close or if an important event will get cancelled. Experts advise people to instead focus in the simple things we can control. These things include taking precautions like washing our hands, staying home when we are sick, and avoiding group gatherings, especially if we have health issues or our immune system is compromised.

Breathe

Engaging in a simple five-minute deep breathing session a few times a day can make a difference. You may have been told in the past to “take a few deep breaths” when you were feeling worried or upset about something. This can be helpful to just slow down and cool off. Breathing deeply can help us manage the anxiety response on a physical, physiological and mental level. It is recommended that people with anxiety practice deliberate breathing for about 3 to 5 minutes during each session at least three times a day. If you’re unsure how to proceed with this, google some techniques.

Exercise

Of course, exercise! If you feel anxious take time to go for a walk or run. The key is to find activities to calm your mind. Find a nice view of some trees or mountains and enjoy a run or even practice your breathing session there.

Pray and hope

Last but not least, remember that God is the one guiding history and we must place our care and anxiety in his hands. He wants to bring his peace into our hearts. And, as we know, prayer is not a simple act of relaxation, but an encounter with a person, with God himself. At the end of the day, he is the source of our joy and being in communion with him is our greatest good.

COMING UP: Preparing your Home and Heart for the Advent Season

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The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the Lord’s birth on Christmas.  It extends over the four Sundays before Christmas.  Try some of these Ideas to celebrate Advent in your home by decorating, cooking, singing, and reading your way to Christmas. Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Special thanks to Patty Lunder for putting this together!

Advent Crafts

Handprint Advent Wreath for Children 
Bring the meaning of Advent into your home by having your kids make this fun and easy Advent wreath.

Materials
Pink and purple construction paper
– Yellow tissue or construction paper (to make a flame)
– One piece of red construction paper cut into 15 small circles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Two colors of green construction paper
– One paper plate
– 2 empty paper towel tubes

1. Take the two shades of green construction paper and cut out several of your child’s (Children’s) handprints. Glue the handprints to the rim of a paper plate with the center cut out.

2. Roll one of the paper towels tubes in purple construction paper and glue in place.

3. Take the second paper towel and roll half in pink construction paper and half in purple construction and glue in place.

4. Cut the covered paper towel tubes in half.

5. Cut 15 small circles from the red construction paper. Take three circles and glue two next to each other and a third below to make berries. Do this next to each candle until all circles are used.

6. Cut 4 rain drop shapes (to make a flame) from the yellow construction paper. Each week glue the yellow construction paper to the candle to make a flame. On the first week light the purple candle, the second week light the second purple candle, the third week light the pink candle and on the fourth week light the final purple candle.

A Meal to Share during the Advent Season

Slow-Cooker Barley & Bean Soup 

Make Sunday dinner during Advent into a special family gathering with a simple, easy dinner. Growing up in a large family, we knew everyone would be together for a family dinner after Mass on Sunday. Let the smells and aromas of a slow stress-free dinner fill your house and heart during the Advent Season. Choose a member of the family to lead grace and enjoy an evening together. This is the perfect setting to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in a special prayer for that week.

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried multi-bean mix or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
– 1/2 cup pearl barley (Instant works great, I cook separate and add at end when soup is done)
– 3 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
– 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
– 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (basil, oregano)
– Freshly ground black pepper
– One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
– 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for garnish

1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down and add their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours. 

2. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with a baguette.