When fear and anxiety rears its head, use these 8 ways to get back on track.

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.

Worried about dementia? Then here’s some very good news.

If you live in the UK you are likely to worry more about developing dementia in your retirement than those in any other country. That’s according to research by the global insurance company AEGON.

To put it in numbers, two in five in the UK have anxieties about developing dementia compared to one in three globally.

But why such a high level of worry?

Perhaps it has it has a certain Job-like resonance. If you remember, Job sat on a refuse tip, scratching his skin with pieces of broken pottery, when he said, ‘What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true.’ 

Why had he been in such dread? Nothing in his life beforehand had justified his worrying. He was a successful businessman, a leader in the community, and a patriarch of a large prospering family.

His worrying was all based on ‘what if…’ Perhaps he was influenced by what he saw happening to people around him. And perhaps that’s how it is in the UK regarding fear of developing dementia.

Though not so much what we see but, rather, what we read and hear. And we’d worry less if we could see our way past so much myth and misunderstanding about the condition. So let me give you some good news.

It’s not as prevalent as you may think: You may have read there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK. However, that figure is not based on evidence: Rather, there are currently ‘only’ 537,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK according to dementiastatistics.org.

Why is that number so wrong? It’s because the inflated figure comes from 1980s projections when dementia was thought to be rolling in like a tsunami. It’s a supposition, not a fact.

The numbers are falling and not rising: Studies quoted in the New Scientist Live show the number impacted by dementia has dropped by a fifth over the past two decades. To quote, ‘Four out of five large studies in different European countries have now suggested our chance of getting dementia by any particular age is less than that of previous generations.’

Though the number impacted in the UK has stayed the same, the percentage is less due to the increase in population. This is probably due to the growing focus on healthy living and preventative measures. These include dealing with loneliness, depression and stress, with studies showing that depression slows blood flow to the brain and people who suffer chronic stress in midlife are more likely to develop dementia.

Indeed, a 35 yearlong study of men living in Caerphilly showed those who stuck to healthy living guidelines saw their risk of dementia more than halved.

So this could be a good time to stop worrying. Especially as research increasingly shows that people with a negative view of being old are more likely to be unhappy, have more health issues in their later years, and have earlier deaths.

So beware of being a Job. And keep in mind those words from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, ‘Above everything else, guard your heart; for it is the source of all of life’s consequences.’ Proverbs 4:23 CJB.

The answer seems to be – take the Scriptures seriously; eat and live sensibly, and watch what you are thinking and reading.

Louise Morse

For some wise advice on heath take a look at the AfterWorkNet webpages on Health and Fitness. And if you have insights or questions on the issue of dementia do share them here or with our Facebook group.

Louise Morse is a popular speaker and writer about old age, including dementia, and follows current research on the issues. She’s media and external affairs manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

God designed old age on purpose. Really!

Did you know God deliberately created old age? Such a thought comes as a surprise to many – because everything we hear about being old is negative.

Far from old age being recognised as part of the Divine plan, it’s wrongly seen as something to be feared, resisted and fought against. For example, the anti-ageing cosmetics industry spends £billions on conveying exactly that message.

So I’m never surprised, when speaking on this subject to a large group of Christians, to find some are not convinced. However the majority, when they see the truth in the Scriptures, see it and are delighted.

We should not be surprised by this failure to see old age being part of God’s plan.

That’s because we know God is opposed by an implacable enemy out to thwart his plan for human kind. And the weapon used to thwart his purpose for older people is ageism’ – with its hidden, subtle, and powerful messaging that diminishes the sense of self and warps expectations.

Ageism is not a jokey, trivial thing. It seeps into our souls silently, powerfully, and daily – in hundreds of different ways. Blinding us to our value, and leaving thousands feeling they are so worthless their lives are a waste of time.

That’s why it is important for old age to be seen from God’s perspective.

God positively wants us to grow old

When God created the universe, he set in motion times and seasons and the ageing process. When you realise the purpose God has in mind, you see how wonderful growing older is meant to be.

God sees old age as a reward and a blessing.  Consider these promises –

‘With a long life I will satisfy him and let him see my salvation.’ Psalm 91:16,

‘… if you walk in my ways, I will prolong your life. 1 Kings 13:14,

‘you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age.’ Genesis 15:15.

‘Honour your father and your mother, so you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.’ Exodus 20:12

The peak of the culture of Scriptural times was wisdom, and because it’s acquired with experience and age, older people were respected. ‘Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days,’ (Job 12:12) In contrast, in our culture, the peak of attainment is youth. 

God has a purpose for older people

There is no ‘use-before’ date in 2 Ephesians 10, where God makes clear he has equipped us for the good works that he has already planned for us.

God spends our whole lives honing us to develop the character that will bless others – being reflective, less impulsive, able to take the long view, with emotional balance and empathy, compassion and listening skills.

This long preparation is for seniors – the Bible regards older people as seniors, without actually using the word – to be an elderhood in society. Not lording it over others, but helping, listening, mentoring, encouraging and above all – telling of his faithfulness (Psalm 78).

Following a talk I’d given on this topic, a lady came to me with her face aglow. She said, ‘I’m 70, and a retired teacher. I thought there was nothing else for me now.’ Then, lifting her fists and punching the air, she added, ‘but God’s got more for me yet!

Following a talk I’d given on this topic, a lady came to me with her face aglow. She said, ‘I’m 70, and a retired teacher. I thought there was nothing else for me now.’ Then, lifting her fists and punching the air, she added, ‘but God’s got more for me yet!

Most people respond like this, both to my talks and my book, ‘What’s Age Got To Do With It?’ It is such a blessing to see people released into God’s purpose for them.

Imagine that happening with thousands and thousands of older Christians. Think of the energy that would be released for sharing the gospel and helping those with physical frailties.

However, so much more could be done to see older people released into God’s purposes if this same message was espoused in our churches, as are other biblical principles.

How have you seen God’s purpose for your later years worked out? Do please share here or on the AfterWorkNet Facebook Group.

Louise Morse

Louise Morse is a popular speaker and writer about old age, including dementia, and follows current research on the issues. She’s media and external affairs manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society, a Christian charity giving practical and spiritual support to older people.

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife