There’s a lot of excitement about society reopening. Restaurants and businesses are opening to full service, and we can now have in-person worship. Many people are ready to move on to whatever normal is going to be. Although some are grieving the next phase with excitement, for others, there’s fear. There is still no vaccine and no treatment for this virus. The threat of infection and death are still very real. Even though the enforced quarantine is over, the number of cases continues to rise. How do we manage our fear in the midst of reopening?
The difference between fear and anxiety is that fear has a real danger. There are some things we need to be afraid of so that we can protect ourselves and stay safe. Anxiety on the other hand is a general feeling of distress without a specific threat. In the mist of this pandemic the virus is real and should be feared, but it is not something that we can see and from which we can protect ourselves. As a result, there is both fear and anxiety. So, how do we manage these feelings? Let me offer a few suggestions that you might find helpful.
Admit when you’re afraid.
This is a very dangerous situation, and the steps that you can take to protect yourself are limited. If you’re afraid and deny it, the fear will simply grow. So, be honest with yourself. There is no disgrace in the admitting that you’re afraid when there is a real danger.
Listen to the advice of the experts.
Some experts have spent their whole careers in studying viruses and pandemics. Their advice—things like using a mask in public, washing your hands thoroughly, and limiting the time in public places—needs to be heeded. So, follow advice.
Focus on the present moment.
As much as possible, keep your mind focused on the now. It is very easy to get caught up in future, thinking about all the bad possibilities and miss the good moment now. Don’t spend time in the future that you can’t control but live fully in the present. Jesus said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). When you catch yourself being anxious about tomorrow, set that thought aside and focus on today.
Self-care is a must during times of fear and anxiety. Proper diet, exercise, and sleep are mood managers. You can’t control the course of this virus, but you can control your own actions. Take the actions that you know are best for you.
Trust that God is in control.
Ultimately, God is our only source of security. We can take all the actions possible to keep ourselves safe, but in the end, you aren’t in control of every part of your life. Even if you are exposed or catch the virus, God is still watching over your life and your health. At the end of the day we must trust that God will be our shelter in the midst of this storm.