Anxiety: COVID or Climate – there are things you can do
This week, as the Covid numbers continue to rise in NSW and the ACT, it is easy to be discouraged and get lost in the fog. The stress of Covid and Environmental issues can be overwhelming as adults and even more so for children and young people.
As we reflected on this personally and as a team, the reading from Matthew 6 kept coming to mind. Do not worry..
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[k] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
How can Jesus tell us not to worry???
Is he for real! But the fact that he said this, reminds us that people have been worrying about things for a long time, and as in the times of Jesus, God still loves and cares for us and knows our suffering. There is a couple of really interesting things to notice in the reading.
Stay in the moment, don’t rush ahead to what could be tomorrow… Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. The weight of today is enough. It takes real discipline to stay in today and not worry about where this can go next. Prayer, meditation, mindfulness all can help in keeping you and your kids in the present.
Secondly, strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. If that is where you start and work towards those things the rest will sort itself out, maybe not the way you hope or want, but be aware of what you can control and do something about that. What does working towards God’s righteousness look like in regards to Climate change, what about Covid. Part of the worry comes from having so much time to think, what are actions you can take to put in it’s place.
There was a great article from Reachout on Climate Anxiety, which has some great tips on how to deal with this and help your kids deal with it too. The tips are so useful and don’t just apply to Climate Change but also to our Covid situation.
Here are their 7 tips for dealing with Climate Anxiety:
Know you are not alone – We are all in this together and you are not the only one who is struggling and wrestling with this. Join in with others who care about these issues, see if there are people at church who care about what you care about. (If we pay attention to the reading above, we know that God is with us too and cares about what is happening!)
Take action every little bit counts – For climate action, this is about paying attention and taking action in your own little ways, in how you use electricity and recyclables. In Covid, how can you bring a little hope and light to the people around you, in your house, in your family, in your neighbourhood, to your church? By taking action you are actively working to overcome those things which you struggle with.
Advocate for Change – You have a voice, use it!!! Write to politicians, join in discussions and forums, learn how to take action, speak into your schools, workplaces and churches about how you could do things differently.
Talk to others about it – It can be hard but talk about how you are feeling, let the people you know that you are struggling. If you think your kids are struggling talk to them about it, you might think they need space but check in to make sure! Sometimes just being honest and having someone listen and care, can lighten the load.
Take a break – Get off socials, stop watching the news and newsfeeds and actually just let the world happen for a little while. Not knowing isn’t going to change anything. Take a mini-retreat at home.
Remember what has been done – there has been some amazing progress in the world of Climate action and in regards to Covid. Focus on these things so you can be reminded that we are making progress. When children are young they do not have the life experience that humanity can overcome these things. Talk to your elders and listen to their stories about how we have dealt with big problems in the past. The Reachout article has a couple of links to good news stories around climate, they are worth checking out. Practice gratitude, everyday wakeup and give thanks for the gift of a new day and give thanks as you go to sleep for the day you have had. Even if it is hard look for 2 or 3 things you can be grateful for.
Be Kind to yourself – We are in difficult times, sometimes just getting out of bed every day is a massive achievement. As Christians, we believe that God is gracious and kind and understanding, but often we are not that for ourselves. Find ways to be kind to yourself.
Whether you are worried about Climate Change or our current Covid situation, do what you can, every little bit helps, that is all that God requires of you. If this continues to be overwhelming make sure you get professional help. We are all struggling, this is not going to last forever, lets do what we can and be kind to each other in the process.
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Karen Mitchell-Lambert is ordained in the ministry of Deacon and is the team leader of PULSE.