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11 Ways to handle the ongoing stress of the pandemic

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Focusing on the things you can control, instead of what you can’t, brings a needed boost of optimism.

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The pandemic keeps changing our plans. In a period of 24 hours we can be plunged into opposite situations: the urgency of organizing our children’s school activities at home, then putting the brakes on everything to quarantine; rushing out to do shopping so we’ll have plenty of food at home, then not being able to go out more than once in a while to get the most necessary supplies. It’s been a roller coaster ride, from day to day and month to month.

This year has been characterized by changes, and certain difficulties have become more common, issues like illness, the possibility of contagion, economic crisis, and unemployment. How can we face the anxiety generated by this mountain of unexpected problems? How can we achieve serenity in the midst of an endless list of obstacles?

Here are some ideas that can help us to manage the situation as best we can.

1
Live in the present day

It’s a Latin expression—carpe diem—sometimes translated as “seize the day,” although it can also be interpreted as something more like “enjoy the moment.” However, instead of understanding it as the Romans would, as enjoying life now because when you die everything ends, we can apply it to living in the present day with a transcendent meaning (see Matthew 6:25-34). In that passage, Christ tells us to focus first on seeking “the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” trusting that God will help us deal with the rest.

Indeed, God does not ask us to do more than we can with the grace he gives us to cope with the situation. Blessed Alvaro del Portillo wrote, “If we sometimes encounter more difficulties, it means that the Lord will send us more grace; he will always grant us proportional help.” That’s true; we will never lack God’s grace.

2
Live with hope

Look to nature to learn great lessons of hope. After a storm always comes the calm; we can look out the window and see the sun again. That’s what’s going to happen to us when the pandemic is over, and don’t doubt that, someday, it will be over.

3
Man proposes and God disposes

Let’s remember again what “Providence” means. It’s the loving care that God has for His creatures. God never abandons us.

We make plans but we can always count on God to look after our lives.

WOMAN
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Accomplish something small, something within your reach, to give yourself a dose of optimism.

4
Start with something small

If you’re overwhelmed by anxiety or disheartened by many things that seem like unsolvable problems, start by tackling something very small, like making your bed or starting a load of laundry.

5
From the endless list, pick just one thing at a time

If you have a long list of unfinished tasks, focus on the first one, as if it were the only thing you have to do during the day. Once you’ve solved it, focus on the second one, and so on.

6
Plan only the essentials

Focus on the essentials. What good is it now to worry about how you will spend Christmas as a family? Solve your day-to-day problems, and don’t get caught up worrying about matters that are not in your hands. We depend on the decisions of the authorities in matters of mobility and health measures, and right now we simply can’t know what the situation will be in two or three months.

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Be positive and proactive with friends and on social networks.

7
Make life easier and don't be a complainer

On social media, what kind of messages do you transmit? Do you argue? Do you get angry easily? We need to be constructive with the little we have at our disposal. Share a good idea, a small success at work, or a practical and manageable idea for leisure (good music, a recipe or movie you’ve enjoyed, for example).

This positive approach doesn’t mean assenting to all political commentary or to inappropriate behavior. Our critical judgment must remain active, but the way we share our point of view should be respectful and realistic. We shouldn’t expect to change people’s minds easily if at all.

8
Less is more

Being able to do fewer things doesn’t mean that our life will decrease in quality. On the contrary, having a simpler life can be a good opportunity for us to have more in-depth conversations, to dedicate more time to our loved ones, and to cultivate friendships.

9
You are still an explorer

Remember that explorers look for treasures and new worlds, but each day they must take a break to continue the next day with renewed strength. The pandemic doesn’t make us less human. We’re the ones who decide which direction to take each day.

FUN
Shutterstock | Giuseppe Elio Cammarata
Recharge your batteries every day: rest is important for facing new challenges the next day.

 

10
Remember that in the end...

The important thing—what we are going to be judged on at the end of our lives—is love. Pope Francis reminds us of that again and again.

11
Find ways to pray throughout the day

We might say, “How can I pray when I have so much work?” Prayer doesn’t require a lot of time. A few simple words addressed to Heaven as you go about your day are sufficient. Here are some short prayers:

  • “Give us peace!”
  • “Jesus, I trust in you!”
  • “Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like Yours.”
  • “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.”

Short prayers are as powerful as they are concise, but each one is a meaningful connection with God.

Spending more time with your family is one of blessings we can focus on in the present day. Here are several ways to have fun and make memories with young adult children who have moved home because of the pandemic …

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