Ever since the pandemic turned the world upside down, every person I have talked to--whether a family member, friend, or parishioner--is stressed out. Parents are stressed out about getting work done while having kids home 24/7. Children I know are stressed out because they can tell that their parents are stressed out. Stressors during the pandemic, ranging from job insecurity to wondering if the strangers standing with you in the checkout line at Target are contagious, is adding to the generally stressful life of the average American.
Psychological stress can manifest itself in many ways. It affects a person’s body: “According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And more than 75 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.” Chronic stress also affects a person’s behavior, such as eating too much or too little, having trouble sleeping, or increasing one’s use of alcohol and tobacco.
I know from experience that when I am stressed out, I am more prone to having joint pain (from being tense) and developing sinus infections (usually after Advent/Christmas!). I am a good sleeper, but tend to have more nightmares when I am anxious about something. I’m the type of person who likes to plan ahead, and with the uncertainties of this ‘new reality’, I am already stressed out about planning fall worship (will we be able to worship in the sanctuary when the weather turns cold?) or even planning when my mom will be able to come to Stewartville for a short visit. Being aware of the effects of stress though, is helping me cope during these uncertain and scary times--making sure I take walks and limiting my time watching the news and consuming pizza.
Thankfully, as a person of faith, I believe that God is journeying with me during these stressful times. I make time every morning to read my devotionals (Phyllis Tickle’s Divine Hours and Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation ) and to sit quietly in my favorite chair, centering myself on the presence of the Divine. And, of course, I ‘talk’ to God throughout the day.
One helpful and inexpensive way for relieving the stress valve is to have conversations with someone you trust. Although I am new to this community, please trust that I am a good listener and that I too, am struggling with extra stress during the pandemic! Please feel free to contact me if you ever need someone to talk to.
Peace in Christ,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)