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

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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: Catholic schools plan to reopen for in-school learning this fall

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Having endured a rather challenging last few months of the school year, parents of Catholic school students can now rest easy with the knowledge that Catholic schools will be open this fall.

In a letter issued May 29, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila and Denver Catholic Schools Superintendent Elias Moo announced plans to reopen Catholic schools for in-school learning for the 2020-21 school year. At the forefront of these plans is the health and safety of students and faculty.

“We will carry out in-person instruction with increased health protocols and processes to ensure that our schools are going above and beyond to protect the health of every member of our Catholic school community, especially our most high-risk members,” said Archbishop Aquila and Moo in their letter. “We are confident our schools’ protocols and processes will keep our school environments as healthy and as safe as possible for all members of our communities.”

To help ensure healthy school environments are maintained, a task force composed of school leaders, nurse practitioners, doctors and a virologist has been assembled. This group is working with schools to identify the best health measures and policies in preparation for the coming school year.

For those parents who may not feel comfortable sending their children to school for any in-school learning, the archdiocese and Office of Catholic Schools are also formulating a virtual distance-learning option. Families who are interested will still be able to receive instruction in core content areas while remaining connected to their local school community. More details on this option will be available at the end of June.

Recognizing the unique challenges parents have faced over these past few months as schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop Aquila and Moo expressed sincere gratitude for their increased efforts in making distance learning a success.

“None of this would have been possible without the incredible efforts made by our parents to play an even bigger role in their children’s education,” they said. “While balancing your own work, caring for your families and other day-to-day responsibilities, you have stepped up to make sure we had a productive finish to the school year.”

Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop Aquila and Moo said that Catholic schools will continue to abide by mandated health protocols while working to keep Catholic schools operating for the good of the communities they serve.

“Our Catholic schools are a critical part of the educational ecosystem and fabric of our state, and we remain committed to working in a spirit of cooperation with our local and state officials when possible as we all seek to advance the common good of our communities,” they concluded.

As plans for reopening Denver’s Catholic schools are continually developed, parents are invited to participate in a survey to help school leadership consider the needs of the community so they can open schools in the safest possible manner. The survey can be accessed by visiting denvercatholicschools.com.