The world is a strange place right now.
Here in Wisconsin, the governor ordered closure of all bars and restaurants earlier this week.
If you know anything about Wisconsin, it’s that our population relies on its dense population of bars and churches to survive.
And churches across the state closed their doors over the weekend.
Last week, nursing homes across the state made the incredibly difficult decision to close their doors to visitors.
The public school system has been shut down.
Sports stadiums everywhere are silent.
Companies are finding ways for their employees to work from home.
These are truly unprecedented times we are living in.
Life as we have come to know it is changing rapidly.
Amidst all the crazy toilet paper buying, doomsday prepping, and constant media coverage, anxiety is at an all-time high.
We have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring.
The realities of preparing for the coronavirus have impacted most aspects of my own life. It feels like everywhere I turn, there are new reasons to stress.
It all feels very overwhelming.
Getting swept up in the madness is so easy!
But is that really how you want to live your life? At the mercy of whatever crisis the media is currently fixated on?
Or would you rather take charge of anxiety, grounded in peace that you, in fact, can handle whatever life throws at you?
You do have a choice. Either be consumed by anxiety. Or choose peace.
Lately I have been focusing on how to find peace despite the chaos.
And the great news? You can too! Here are 5 ways to get started today.
1. Find peace despite chaos through time spent with loved ones
In the midst of chaos, routines are turned upside down.
Soccer practice? Cancelled.
Your after-hours work event? Cancelled.
But do you know what hasn’t been cancelled?
A walk through the neighborhood.
Although we would never have expected our social calendars to suddenly clear, is it really such a bad thing?
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my schedule is filled with obligations rather than meaning.
It can often feel like I say “yes” to things because of what others want me to be or do. I forget to listen to my own voice. And if I don’t prioritize my own time, there’s no one on this earth who will do it for me!
There is also a tendency to take the time spent with friends and family for granted. We can get lulled into thinking they will always be there waiting for us.
It’s far too easy to get caught up in the mundane of the routine and forget to connect with those around us.
If there’s anything the uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has taught me, it’s that the time is now.
We can’t take anything for granted because we have no idea what’s coming tomorrow.
Uncertainty reminds us that being intentional about our time and creating meaningful connections with others are both incredibly important.
The silver lining in all this social distancing is actually a brand new start. The slate is wiped clean. We are free to start all over again with a better understanding of our goals and priorities.
Including, and especially, our loved ones.
You have an amazing opportunity to both reconnect with your loved ones and to find peace despite the chaos!
And thanks to technology, you can both reconnect and maintain social distancing guidelines.
So take a step in the right direction today. Give someone you haven’t spoken with in awhile a call. Reach out and make a connection.
After all, what better conversation starter could there be than a gigantic, nationwide toilet paper shortage? It really couldn’t get any easier than that!
2. Turn off the news
Yes, the news is important. It has a vital role in keeping all of us updated on happenings both local and around the world.
But they also want to keep you coming back for more.
They want you to choose them over every other news channel (or website) out there.
And how do they hook you?
By feeding into your emotions, namely fear.
Remember the principle of fight or flight? Biologically speaking, fear triggers an incredibly strong chemical response within your body.
The fear response is stronger than the response garnered by most other emotions.
The news media keeps you hooked by triggering your fear response. Over and over and over again.
They are making sure you continue to tune in by scaring you.
I am all for being updated on the facts of various occurrences.
But I am not about to be fed sensationalized versions of facts whose only purpose is to scare me into continuing to watch.
And my advice to you? Figure out exactly what it is you need to know and then locate an organization focused on the facts.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions and ways to stay healthy.
Local county health departments are tracking the latest statistics on people impacted in your area.
Neither source will give you sensationalized accounts of how everyone in America will eventually succumb to the virus and 50% of those people will die.
They will simply give you facts. Nothing more, nothing less.
Why would you ever need anything more than that?
3. Search for the positive amidst the negative
When everything goes haywire, it’s incredibly easy to focus on what’s going wrong.
Especially when the changes are as surreal as those happening right now.
If you had told me a year ago that a virus would close down the public school system indefinitely, I would never have believed you.
Likewise, I would never have believed that I would shop my local Wal-Mart at 7 a.m. and find the shelves as bare as I’ve ever seen them.
Or that those same Wal-Mart shelves would be completely devoid of toilet paper.
Changes this dramatic are very unsettling.
But focusing on the negative will only get you to a place of deeper anxiety.
As strange as all the recent events have been, it will all eventually fade into our memories.
Restaurants will open back up again.
Kids will complain about playing basketball in gym class (or maybe that was just me!?).
You will once again be able to meet up with your bestie for coffee without regulation that you sit at least 6 feet apart.
Believe it or not, good things are coming out of all this madness.
One example in my own life is my daycare’s decision to close, coincidentally at the same time my in-laws went on vacation out-of-state.
We have never relied too heavily on sitters so our list is incredibly short. Unfortunately, our usual sitter was already committed elsewhere.
My friend put out a Facebook post that her teenage daughter was available to watch kiddos. I decided to reach out and give it a try.
And do you know what happened?
The kids loved her! They had a great time and now our sitter list is just a bit longer.
Although it takes effort, we can choose to look for the positives in an otherwise negative situation.
Be a positive force in an otherwise chaotic world.
You may also enjoy reading this post about how to get yourself into a positive mindset.
4. Find peace despite chaos through rest
I am guilty of completely over-booking myself. Day after day, week after week, month after month.
Between home, work, and my very limited social life, I feel compelled to constantly be doing something.
My house could always use some type of attention, whether it’s laundry, the floors, or the messy bathroom.
And based upon the piles of dirty laundry which appear every week, I swear to you that there are at least 3 extra people living in my house who I’ve never met. Which begs the question … why aren’t they helping with their laundry?
Also, would it kill them to sweep the floor once in awhile?
Work has also been a challenge as within the past year, I have transitioned to the new role of nurse practitioner. And when you take on a new role, there’s always an abundance to learn and improve upon.
Especially during such an unpredented time as this.
I do have to admit that my social life is essentially non-existent at this point and the virus is not entirely to blame. Between work and home, I simply have no extra energy left to devote to its revival.
Although I have never been someone with a wide social circle, the people I do consider friends are very near and dear to me.
And many of them are also in the midst of figuring out their own work/life balance.
But I have always felt that I could do a better job of staying connected with friends despite my very introverted tendencies.
I am constantly lying to myself about the possibility of a break. “I’ll just keep going until xyz and then I will take some time for myself.”
But when xyz happens, I never take the promised break.
And then I wonder why I’m constantly so exhausted.
Sometimes, we just need a break. And maybe this is God’s way of forcing a break on all of us.
Anxiety feeds off fatigue, exhaustion, and overhwelm. Stop anxiety in its tracks by taking a nap, a Netflix break, or by picking up a good book.
Take advantage of this moment to stop “being” and to instead just “be.”
5. Have faith
At a time when even churches have closed their doors, the world may seem a very hopeless place right now.
Although there are changes sweeping the nation and the world, we have to remember that we have never really been in charge anyway.
Whether it’s coronavirus or some other crazy disease threatening the world, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
We can only do our very best to do what we can with what we have and leave the rest in God’s hands.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.Romans 5: 1-2
Anxiety never changes tomorrow’s outcome but it does steal today’s peace.
My challenge to you today is to choose peace. Reject anxiety.
Focus on the good. Make a difference where you can. Help someone else out.
And never lose your faith that all will work out according to God’s plan.
It’s Your Turn
There’s no denying the big changes happening everywhere.
Between all the closings, the constant news media coverage, and the empty store shelves, some would have you believe the world itself is ending.
But it’s really not all bad!
Social distancing is a technique useful for minimizing the impact illnesses such as the coronavirus can have on a population.
It’s a way we can both conserve resources and protect those who are most vulnerable.
Yes, it’s definitely unsettling to drive through an eerily quiet city.
But this too will pass.
And by taking these drastic measures, I pray the impact will be minimal.
I can only imagine that we will also have a much greater appreciation for having the ability to once again gather with friends and family.
Seize this unsettling time to find peace despite chaos.
Choosing peace will help you become a stronger and more resilient person, better equipped to take on the next crisis thrown at you.
After all, doesn’t surviving a toilet paper shortage equip you to overcome basically anything???
I would love to hear your thoughts on this post below! What are you struggling with right now and what has helped you find peace despite chaos?