This Coronavirus thing is getting real. Recently the marquee of First United Methodist Church in Williamstown said “Didn’t think I’d give up this much for lent.” Isn’t that the truth? All of us have been affected by the precaution measures in place; from the minor to the very serious. It ranges from “I can’t get my pedicure” to “I don’t have a job anymore.” Many of us by now have heard that someone we know has the coronavirus, or even died from it. Through the “stay at home” order in West Virginia, I have been able to continue working from home through Telehealth, seeing clients via televideo conference. All my clients are talking about the effects of the pandemic and how to cope. It’s consuming our thoughts, but we must do real work to keep it from consuming our lives.
The level of societal disruption we are experiencing now is reminiscent of the great depression or WWII. We have become reliant on work, school, church and organized sports to structure our life routines. These structures have essentially been removed. We’ve been shut off from each other, and its stressful. This is the kind of life experience that will show us what we are made of. It will reveal for each of us where or in whom we place our trust and security. It will reveal for us how we cope with adversity as a country, community, and in our families. Recent reports on liquor sales indicate a sharp rise in alcohol consumption since the COVID-19 shutdown. This says drinking is a common way to cope with the anxiety of the day. I’m not recommending this, just observing.
This is a time that tests our resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover from adversity. Can you and your family respond to this COVID shutdown in a way that you can bounce back and be even stronger? Times of adversity can be times of growth. Older generations often recall their trying times with a touch of pride, because they didn’t just get through it but instead became stronger because of it. We don’t end a Netflix binge or a fun vacation with “I really grew through that experience. It really made me who I am today.” Those thoughts are often the result of facing adversity.
So how can you make the most of this not-so-fun time? Its important to focus on what you can control and on what is meaningful. We terrify ourselves by focusing on the scary things we can’t control. We become less anxious when we focus on what we can control. What we focus on determines how we feel. A great example of this is a quote from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.” I encourage you to take this a step further. Don’t just look for the people who are helping, but BE the people who are helping. Start with your kids. They are scared. Realize this is a teachable moment. Children will learn to cope with stress by watching how YOU cope with stress. Realize that we are all in this together and we need to help each other get through this by being cooperative and respectful.