In this tumultuous time, I’m sensing a growing wave of anxiety ebbing in and through me and around and through many of you as well. This fear of not knowing what’s next impacts us with every new headline, announcements of more coronavirus cases and especially with news of the number of deaths followed by the question, “when will this end?”
This morning my husband and I read Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation. In today’s reading, Fr. Rohr used the words of Brian McLaren from his book, Naked Spirituality. And this passage struck home for me, maybe it will for you as well.
Anxieties can gray the whole sky like cloud cover or descend on our whole horizon like fog. When we rename our anxieties, in a sense we distill them into requests. What covered the whole sky can now be contained in a couple of buckets.”
How do you manage your emotions when they’re at a bursting point? I can so relate to this cloud cover. I also know that when I identify what it is that worries, angers or holds me back, I’m able to make a decision on how to deal with it. If I choose not to name the anxiety, it remains, as McLaren suggests, graying the whole sky and descending like a fog.
I took the liberty of naming my coronavirus anxieties and dumping them into five buckets:
- Fear of harm to those I love.
- Fear of not being able to be with those I love.
- Fear of losing income.
- Fear of not knowing how to comfort.
- Fear of how long this crisis will last.
By using my words to illuminate my anxieties, I return to the present. Rather than an ache I might feel when the anxiety sits on me like a cloud, I chip into what’s really bothering me. I may still feel anxious, but now I know what is making me so anxious. And that gives me the option to address and even do something about each of those anxieties.
Maybe I can’t solve the issues in each bucket. But now I am in the moment, my feet are on the ground. I’m not swimming in this icky fog that comes from swirling out of control.
How are you managing your anxiety as you live through COVID-19? Consider naming them and putting them in buckets. Then let me know what happens when you do that. There is power in your words.
We will get through this.