In my previous post on Making Sense of the Future, I talked about some prescriptions on coping with stress. By now, the ferocity of this pandemic has inflicted unimaginable damage on economies across the globe. In terms of social costs, it can only be surmised that several millions of workers would be at risk. Because of the uncertainty of the future of their work, post lockdown, many are suffering from stress & anxiety. As a corollary measure on coping with stress, I would like to focus on St. Josemaria Escriva’s point # 8, as follows:
Point # 8 Serenity. Why lose your temper if by losing it you offend God, you trouble your neighbor, you give yourself a bad time... and in the end you have to set things aright anyway? St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way
Rise in “Intimate Terrorism”
As may be gleaned from above, St. Josemaria’s point # 8 stresses the importance of serenity. By definition, serenity is “the state or quality of being calm, or tranquil”. Indeed, acquiring such a state of serenity, at this time, is the holy grail of success. However, one may ask, “How can one be serene in a situation like this pandemic?” Aside from the risk of death by COVID-19, the threat of job losses have caused sleepless nights for people from all walks of life. Without a doubt, this pandemic has induced fear and anxiety to creep into society. At the extreme level, such life-threatening events have ignited anger or outrage resulting in the rise in domestic or family violence. Interestingly, the New York Times recently featured an article, which highlighted a new term -“intimate terrorism.”
“As quarantines take effect around the world, that kind of “intimate terrorism” — a term many experts prefer for domestic violence — is flourishing.”Amanda Taub, New York Times
Coping with Stress and Anxiety
As the quarantine and lockdowns extend over time, the social costs of coping with stress continue to rise. Whilst governments have come up with economic and financial packages to mitigate massive business closures, nonetheless, there still remains a gap in the provision of social safety nets. In the absence of clear external risk mitigants, there is need to delve into remedies at the micro level, that is, at the individual or family level. Several considerations may come in handy, namely:
1. Do not let emotions dominate your life.
The economic shock of this pandemic may cause a tsunami of anxiety attacks, which, if left unattended, may trigger a rapid decline in one’s health. In such a case, one ought to seek medical help immediately. For milder cases, however, indulging oneself in leisure activities such as reading a book, listening to classical music, taking up yoga, gymnastics or dancing, etc., may help in mitigating the problem. In effect, the antidote for anxiety is to actively pursue new activities that would induce relaxation of the mind & spirit. Such a process, therefore, helps to rid oneself of those unwelcome elements causing anxiety.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Allowing oneself to be bothered by little inconveniences or indulging in nitpicking are traits that tend to increase tension brewing in one’s mind. On the one hand, when one develops the habit of getting mad at the little pinpricks of each day, such mindless reaction can be detrimental to one’s health in the long run. On the other, when one practices mindfulness or being aware of the present moment, then, one could easily be in a position to filter out useless clutter or noise in an already hyped up environment.
3. Don’t panic.
Stress tends to becloud one’s thinking, which, in turn, could lead to panic. Use rational thinking to combat stress. Take a step backwards to move two steps ahead. Examine the situation, look at the variables; and, think of reasons or causes behind it. Then, assess possibilities taking account of one’s strengths and weaknesses before crafting a strategy moving forward.
4. Pray, Pray and Pray.
Last but not the least, recognize that no one is in control of life but God alone. Hence, it may do a lot of good if one were to go down on one’s knees and lift up to God all problems, worries and heartaches. For in doing so, one is actually opening oneself to receiving the peace of mind, befitting of a child of God.
Omnia in Bonum
In closing, this pandemic may indeed have affected the lives of millions of people across the globe. Nevertheless, for those who embrace the holistic approach in life, there is no need to fear. This is anchored on St. Josemaria Escriva”s favorite phrase – “Omnia in Bonum” based on the letter of St. Paul to the Romans:
“we know that all things work for good for those who love God.”Romans 8:28