When fear and anxiety rears its head, use these 8 ways to get back on track. Posted on April 3, 2020April 3, 2020 by Louise Morse At this time of Coronavirus shutdown, don’t be surprised – or feel guilty – if you are anxious or fearful. There are sound reasons why this could be so – and ways to respond that will make all the difference. Isolation is not natural for human beings – we are not designed for it. Our natural instinct is to group together. For us to experience and enjoy relationships – in our workplace, our community, and our family. Yet here we are having to isolate ourselves, even from close family members. Worse still, at the same time, we are bombarded with horrifying headlines. So it’s no surprise that many – possibly even you – experience emotions of anxiety and fear. However, the good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. My experience as a cognitive behavioural therapist has taught me there are things we can do to meet this challenge. Though seemingly simple, they have powerful effects. More than that, they wonderfully reflect what we know to be true from the Bible. Here I have brought the two together with 8 ways to help you have peace of mind while the seas of the pandemic rage. 1. Remember that God has not changed. The Israelites put stones in the river Jordan as a reminder of the miraculous stopping of the river when they crossed. When we are anxious, we tend to forget the times God has intervened in our lives. Our circumstances may have changed but God is the same yesterday, today and forever. So take time to reflect on – and even write down – the ways God has been good to you in the past. And remember that though your circumstances have changed, he hasn’t. 2. Make God’s promises your own Let God speak to you through the promises he has made in the Bible. Put them on post-it notes and stick them where you will see them during the day – and stop to let them sink in. Verses like – ‘If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.’ Psalm 139: 9-10 ‘When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’ Isaiah 43: 2 ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ Psalm 46:1 ‘Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10 ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ 1 Peter 5:7 For other examples see Deuteronomy 31:8, Psalm 18:29, Psalm 138:8, and Isaiah 54:10. 3. Watch your thoughts. Though thoughts of fear can come you don’t have to let them stay. That’s because we can choose to change what we are thinking about. So deliberately decide to think of something else. Ideally, take St Paul’s words to heart – ‘Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’ Philippians 4:8. 4. Encourage others. Take the focus off yourself by finding ways to let others know how important they are to you – using the telephone, emails, or social media posts. You can begin by saying, ‘I was just remembering when …’ (about the time they said or did something) and how much it meant to me.’ You will have your own memories and words, so find the little ways to share them. Or simply say, ‘I’m thinking about you, and praying for you.’ 5. Accept help from others. We can be so used to being independent that we unwittingly pull up the drawbridge that lets people in to help us. When someone asks if there’s anything they can get you say ‘yes’. Even if it’s only a bar of soap. Though it might even be toilet rolls. 6. Spend time focusing on the small things. Give yourself the time and space to admire – and wonder at – the beauty of simple things. For example, notice how the sun’s rays coming through the windows light up the pattern in the carpet, or a picture – even if it’s dust you see rather than the sunshine itself. 7. Be grateful. Being grateful has a hug therapeutic effect and there is so much we can be grateful for. Here’s where a notepad and pen can be handy. Make a list of things, big and small, for which you are grateful. Keep writing, noting how often the little things had longer-lasting effects than the big ones. And put it somewhere prominent. So when those fearful or anxious moments come there is a powerful reminder that life is also good. There are many ways to worship but doing so through great worship music will be good for your brain as well as for your soul. God’s gift of music helps us be more aware of his presence as he puts our fragmented, world-weary selves back together. There’s no shortage of music that can do this for you, from Handel to Hillsong. And all are very easy to reach by way of your favourite CD, Premier Radio or UCB radio, Alexa, YouTube and Spotify. Put these 8 responses to fear and anxiety to work and you’ll discover the difference they will make. Think this might help someone else? Please share it using the easy links below. What have you found works when you find worry and anxiety invading your life? Please share your insights here or on our Facebook Group. Louise Morse Louise Morse is a qualified Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and Christian counsellor. She is External Relations Manager for Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.