PRESCRIPTION FOR ANXIETY
SERMON JUNE 28 2020
BY DR. TERRY SWICEGOOD
According to an article in the “Arizona Republic” last Sunday the American Psychological Association reports that 80 per cent of the American public see the nation’s future as a significant source of stress. “We are facing a culmination of crises unlike anything we have seen in our life-times–in coronavirus, economic turmoil, and racism.” Each of these crises are taking a heavy psychological toll on Americans–and particularly upon people of color.
More than 70% of Americans in the APA report said this is the lowest point in the nation’s history that they can remember. “These events will, for a large segment of our population have long-term mental health consequences, including leading to diagnosable conditions.”
We Arizonans are among the most endangered from the virus. Over 59,000 confirmed cases; over 1400 known virus deaths. Each day the numbers spike.
So we are worried. How can we be otherwise? For those of us over 65 or those with vulnerable health conditions we fear an early trip to the cemetery.
It’s almost impossible to have an insouciance of the spirit with those deadly little unseen particles floating in the air.
Anxiety is a normal reaction of the body telling us something is not quite right, something is threatening to us. Even a slight change in a predictable routine can trigger feelings of stress.
We are going to be living with this for a long time. So what do you do? Here is a prescription for Corona Virus anxiety.
1. Focus on what you can control and let the rest go. You know what that means. Stay inside. Wash hands. Wear a mask when grocery shopping. Don’t congregate in crowded places. It’s almost like a mantra.
2. Turn off the tv news. It’s all bad and each time you watch it, you become more and more disconsolate. If you need a news fix, limit your daily dose.
3. Establish a healthy routine for each day. If you can go for a walk each morning. ng. Sit on your patio for a little sun. Phone someone new each day to see how they are doing. Come to our prayer meeting at 6 pm each night (480 900 1250). Work a crossword puzzle. Read an interesting book. (I just finished “Endurance” by Caroline Alexander, the stirring account of Sir. Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to the Antartica). Reading this helped me see what human beings can endure and overcome.
4. Live with an attitude of gratitude. Have enough to eat? Living in an air conditioned home? Safe from bombs falling in your neighborhood? Have a little savings in the bank? If you said “yes” to any of these you are in the minority of the world’s population.
5. Live one day at a time. The hardest part of this, one of our church members said, is that there is no end in sight. Anxiety is stoked when we constantly think “What happens if?.” We are only given today, nothing more.
When I was a child a read a story about a clock that one day stopped ticking. It had figured out how many times it would have to tick in a year, more than 31 million times. The little clock started to think about all those ticks, and got all tired out, and just quit ticking. Then one day somebody came along and reminded it that it wouldn’t have to tick all of them at once, only one tick at a time.
Live this day, and every day, one tick at a time.
One tick at a time. One day at a time. Each day is an unrepeatable gift, filled with miracles, great and small. T.S. Eliot wrote about the lifetime burning in every moment.
Finally, lift your anxious thoughts to thoughts about the goodness and greatness of God. Whatever else God intends for us, God surely does not intend for us to be stymied by anxiety. The scripture reminds us that God is supremely a God for us. God is utterly beneficent.
I went white water rafting in Washington State a few years ago. The guide gathered us all by the rafts before we began our trip and gave us a set of instructions. If you fall out of the boat, the guide said, lay back on your life jacket, keep your feet pointed downstream, and let the current carry you along. Don’t struggle, and don’t try to swim to the boat. We will come and get you.
If we could only trust than when we fall out of the boat, we don’t have to struggle, but we can let the current carry us along, and God, in God’s goodness, will come to our rescue.