Well, that escalated quickly! It is amazing how much our world has changed in recent weeks. We are surrounded by uncertainty. Planning seems impossible. It all feels out of control. How do we ‘fear less’ in the midst of this?
Panic rises easily as we read news feeds, face empty supermarket shelves and try to decide how best to keep our family safe. At least, it does for me. I have a choice- do I give into panic or do I press into peace? I am conscious that my choice impacts on others.
When I give into panic, I become selfish- out to get what I can for myself and ignoring the needs of others. I become irritable and reactive. I am unable to support my daughter in her anxiety over the situation because I am drowning in my own. When I press into peace, I am able to see the needs of others. I can support my daughter and bring that same peace to others around me. I am able to make clear, level headed decisions.
Fearing less does not mean living in denial, ignoring the realities of the world around us either.
“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end– which you can never afford to lose– with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Jim Stockdale (American prisoner of war in Vietnam)
We need both realism and hope.
So how do we equip ourselves to fear less?
Recognise fear is normal and has its place
Fear is our alert system designed to protect us. Of course, we are going to feel fear in the face of the current situation around the world. Fear is normal. Fear has a purpose. Fear can also be a betraying liar.
When fear drives us to extremes, it is no longer helpful. Not being able to sleep or focus on anything else. Hoarding enough supplies for months while many go completely without. We absolutely need to take precautions, stock up a little and implement practices that keep the vulnerable in our communities safe. This is being wise and prepared not panicked.
Take care of ourselves
Get enough sleep- probably more than you are getting right now. Eat nutritious food to fuel your body and mind. Take time to get outside for a walk or have a dance party inside to get your heart pumping. Find something creative to do that will feed your soul.
If you are not taking care of your body and mind, you cannot fear less. Let’s be real- regulating our emotions takes effort and energy. The healthier we can be physically and mentally, the more we can pursue peace.
Watch what you are feeding your mind
We have a choice to feed fear or to feed courage. For myself, I am spending less time on social media and being selective about the posts I read and engage with. Be aware of the impact of the news and opinions you are taking in. Choose which sources of truth you will turn to for information and focus on that.
Find what feeds your courage in this season. Uplifting music. Good fiction. Wise words that have stood the test of time. Friends who engage in positive conversation in these times instead of spreading panic. Engage in these things.
Develop tools to calm down and use them often
This is the time to learn and use breathing exercises, mindfulness practices and sensory tools. Blow bubbles with your kids- calming for you and them! Use calming essential oils or candles to create a calm atmosphere. Get your body moving. Create times of quiet when you can reduce the noise around you and don’t fill it with technology! These all help to reduce your stress levels.
How incredible is it that we live in the privileged position of having technology that keeps us connected despite social distancing!? Social isolation does not mean staying isolated. Many of our MOPS groups are having virtual meetings over web conferencing tools or hosting fun Facebook parties during the times of their meeting. Video calls make keeping in contact even more personal than a phone call. Let’s make use of these tools at our fingertips.
Ask yourself, “What does this make possible?”
We can see the impacts and losses easily. Have you stopped to consider what opportunities exist in this time? Maybe now is the time to pick up that creative project that has been gathering dust. This could be the time to connect as a family in whole new ways! Learn new technology skills and explore different ways of connecting than you’ve tried before. I have friends who are taking the opportunity of their social isolating to repaint their house or get to those house maintenance tasks that get put off constantly. Let’s choose to see the growth and development potential in all of this.
May you find peace as you seek for it.
May you find beauty in the little moments.
May you and your family be protected as you make wise choices.
May you be part of spreading kindness and courage in your community.
MOPS Australia Managing Director
Jodi spends her days sharing words of encouragement for women in leadership, finding her way through the beautiful mess of parenting and relationships, and geeking out on technology. She is the author of the book ‘Stepping Up In Leadership’, a speaker and the Managing Director for MOPS Australia. Find more inspiritment at jokoepke.com.