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Anxious, depressed, and stressed during Coronavirus & Shelter In Place order?

Woman with face mask Image source: Unsplash

Woman with face mask
Image source: Unsplash

If you are like me, you have been battling anxiety, depression, and great stress during the Coronavirus crisis and the Shelter In Place order across the U.S. and the world.

My biggest concern is about our three daughters, our grandkids, or other loved ones contracting the virus (as well as concern for my husband Ray and myself). Second, like many people, I’m worried about the U.S. and the global economy. 

I do know that no matter what, God is still on the throne as the King and in control of everything, and I must trust in Him. The Coronavirus did NOT take God by surprise! He’s got you and me in His loving, capable hands.

Here is an article with some good tips for coping with anxiety.

pink peony from our yard

pink peony from our yard

Some of the ways I am coping are the following. I hope they can help you, too.

  • Spend daily quiet time with God, reading & studying the Bible, praying, and worshipping/praising Him. I call this my Coffee With God time and even wrote a book about it, which you can find here at Amazon.
  • Staying connected with my beloved family and friends. Recently, I was FINALLY able to see and hug my precious daughters Heather and Leah and our two granddaughters, Annabelle and Violet. I hadn’t been able to see them for over a month due to the virus and Shelter In Place order in Missouri, where we live. Once it lifted, I had lunch with Leah and went to see Heather and the girls for Violet’s 14th birthday. This made me so happy! Our daughter Eden and her family moved to Colorado this  year, so we haven’t been able to see them since then. We miss them, but I’m glad they seem so happy and recently got their own apartment there near Denver.
  • Having online Zoom meetings is a great tool to do that (also for business and ministry purposes). There is a paid and unpaid version. The unpaid version is limited to 40 minutes and 100 participants (attendees). The two paid versions have other features, multiple hosts and participants. On Monday nights, I join my sweet friend Kim and her friend Allison in Jacksonville, Florida, for Kim’s Bible study on the book of James. On Thursday nights, I attend my speaker/leadership coach/author friend Doreen Penner for her Zoom “chocolate bites” for inspiring words of encouragement. On Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Central Time (11:30 a.m. Eastern Time), I offer a free Zoom “Virtual Coffee & Prayer” time for ladies. If you’re interested in joining us, comment below or contact me here.
  • I’ve been spending 10-15 minutes a day in the sunshine to help my body absorb Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for the body to absorb calcium, and for bone growth, bone healing, and immune system function, which is very important right now with the Coronavirus out there. Spending even a few minutes out in the sunshine can provide your body with the Vitamin D it needs for the day. I notice an immediate difference in my mood when I spend time outdoors. 
  • Journal daily. Writing about your deepest fears can help reduce your inhibited emotions and the stress that comes with them, and releases negative thoughts and feelings. Journaling improves mental health, boosts positive feelings and enhances your sense of well-being. 
  • I take hot baths before bedtime. This helps to relax me. Sometimes I add Epsom salts.
  • I’ve been working in my little flower gardens lately. To my surprise, our youngest daughter Leah bought me fresh Azaleas flowers for Mother’s Day. This really blessed me and I planted them outside this week. I’m fervently praying that they survive and thrive! Last week, I bought purple and white annuals, and still have one pink rose bush that survived from last year. The peony bush on the side of our house which Ray accidentally mowed over came back, and is in full bloom. I also bought some cute fairy decorations for the annuals garden. Pictures of the gardens are below. Some health benefits of gardening are that it burns a lot of calories, it can lower your blood pressure, it helps your body to make Vitamin D, it can relieve stress, and it can make you happier.
  • I am reading more. This week’s books are Switch On Your Brain (Dr. Caroline Leaf), Get Out of Your Head (Jennie Allen), and Broken: A Story of Abuse, Survival, and Hope. Reading keeps your mind strong and healthy, improves your memory and focus, enhances your peace, and alleviates stress. 
  • Recently I’m watching Lost again. We all need down time to help with stress. This is probably the 4th time I’ve been watching the episodes again. I rarely watch TV, but this is probably one of my all-time fave shows. My daughter Heather told me about it when she began watching it years ago. I love it because it’s interesting (mysteries), funny, it has romance, and it makes you think about spiritual things. What is your “show”?
  • I pet and play with my black cat with green eyes, Natalya. She amuses me. I adopted Natalya three years ago from HelpHumane in Belton, Missouri. She was 3 1/2 years old at that time. Natalya’s owners had been in a house fire. They thought she had died in it, but she had just run during the fire. They had to move out of the house due to the damage and gave her to the shelter. Natalya loves me and is constantly following me around the house or in my lap with her soft blanket. I wrote about her and our daughter Leah’s cat in my first children’s book, Nat and Jax, available here at Amazon. Studies show that pets reduce stress and fear, and increase oxytocin levels in the brain. Pet adoptions and fostering has surged during the Coronavirus crisis. 
  • I’m trying to eat healthier, drink more water, take a women’s multi-vitamin and Vitamin D/Calcium, Cinnamon, and Biotin, and do more self-care (such as trying new makeup). During times of crisis, it’s important to take care of yourself as never before. Your cortisol levels increase. Try adding more fresh vegetables and fruit to your diet, increase your water daily, and do stretches or go for a walk. I bought a weighted blanket recently, take Melatonin about a half hour before bedtime, and sometimes use Lavender essential oil, which seems to be helping my struggles with insomnia. There is only one, unique YOU in this world. God created you and me for a Divine purpose and mission. Take care of yourself and let your light shine.

I hope these tips above help you. What are you doing to help with anxiety, depression, and stress during Coronavirus and the Shelter In Place order?

“Trust in him at all times, oh people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” ~Psalm 62:8

Below are some pretty pics of my little gardens that I’ve been working in this past week. I hope they bless you.

pink Azaleas my sweet daughter Leah bought me for Mother's Day

pink Azaleas my sweet daughter Leah bought me for Mother’s Day

sunflower decoration with Azaleas that Leah bought me

sunflower decoration with Azaleas that Leah bought me

peony bush by side of the house

peony bush by the side of the house

purple & white annuals garden

purple & white annuals garden

purple annuals

purple annuals

white annuals

white annuals

fairy decorations

fairy decorations

pink roses

pink roses

flowers to draw butterflies

flowers to draw butterflies

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Blog, Faith, Family, Friendship, prayer, Stress, Travel

Coronavirus: If you feel alone

While the curve is flattening across the United States and the world (praise God!) and some U.S. states now are allowing more businesses to re-open, the Coronavirus crisis isn’t over yet.

Barber shop re-open for business
Barber shop re-open for business
Source: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/04/states-stay-at-home-orders-ending.html

It’s been so hard to deal with for everyone. I haven’t seen my 3 daughters or our grandkids for over a month now. I love and miss them so much, and just want to hug them!

Our family, Ray's 50th bday Left to right: Heather, Eden, Ray, Leah & me
Our family
Left to right:
Heather, Eden, Ray, Leah & me

This week a woman on my website subscriber list emailed and asked me to pray for her, when I had my Virtual Coffee & Prayer Zoom meeting yesterday morning. She was alone, with it being 3 weeks until the first anniversary of her husband’s death, with no one around her to support her during this Coronavirus pandemic. She said she’d been crying for weeks.

Older woman alone
Older woman alone

I told her that I am praying for her. So many people, especially the elderly, are in her shoes right now. Others have lost their jobs, with 16.8 million filing unemployment claims in the U.S. in the last three weeks, and don’t have any income coming in right now.

What can you do to help them? Encourage them with these tips:

  • Pray to God first. Just as the children’s song says, “Jesus loves you, this I know.” God loves you so much and He cares about everything on your mind. Pour out your heart to Him, and tell Him what you’re worried about, discouraged over, your fears, stress, depression, and even anger. As my sister Maria (a therapist) says, anger is one of the five stages of grief. We are angry because we are experiencing many losses right now, such as those we love who died from the virus and loss of our freedom, with the Shelter In Place orders. This makes us angry. Spend time with God each day to pray, read the Bible, and worship/praise Him. You may not feel like doing this, but God is always here for you and wants to help you. He will never leave you alone. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)

  • Get Christian counseling/therapy. To help prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC is recommending social distancing. To help prevent the risk of exposure to Coronavirus for either the therapist or the patient, some therapists are offering online counseling. One of my family members is doing this right now. If you already have a therapist, you might want to ask him or her if they can offer virtual therapy. If you’re looking for a counselor, check first with your family and trusted friends. You can call your local mental health center and/or search online for a therapist who is the right fit for you. The National Alliance on Mental Illness says the pandemic is increasing feelings of anxiety and traumatic stress. I know it has increased my stress (worrying about my family or I or others I love getting the virus; feeling “trapped” in my house from the Shelter In Place; the uncertainty of the future). I’ve talked with many family and friends who are struggling with similar fears. It’s important to recognize and act on mental distress to lessen the impact and find the help you need. 

  • Stay in touch with your family and friends. Normal life has been suspended and it all feels eerily apocalyptic. Due to the virus and Shelter In Place orders, we can’t see and hug our loved ones. It’s painful. But thanks to technology, we can still stay in touch through calling and texting on our cell phones, Google Hangouts, Zoom meetings, Facebook, Twitter, and more. These virtual meetings don’t have to be long, but they can make such a difference so that people don’t feel as isolated and alone. Be sure to especially reach out to the elderly, children and teens, those who are physically sick, and the mentally ill. Check regularly on them. The multiple challenges from the Coronavirus has increased the risk of depression and PTSD. People don’t have other people to go to for their stress. The power of touch releases oxytocin, which is a natural “cuddle hormone.” People aren’t getting the same level of oxytocin release from human contact. I believe one thing the Coronavirus crisis is teaching us is the importance of our relationship with God and others–and how wonderful a hug is! 

family
family
  • You help others. When you are feeling stressed out, depressed, afraid, and anxious, it’s hard to reach out to others. But sometimes that is the very thing that will help us get out of our own funk. Although I personally believe the Coronavirus is from the devil, God is allowing the situation for His glorious purposes–through His people. Use this as an opportunity for good. Volunteer somewhere, either in person or online, such as at Meals on Wheels; donate blood at the Red Cross; give to charities; cook and deliver meals (our local Christian bookstore, The Carpenter’s Cup, is doing this for our community here in Butler, Missouri); sew masks for your community workers; or offer assistance such as creating a virtual storytime library for vulnerable children. One of the things I’m doing to volunteer my gifts and time is a Virtual Coffee & Prayer Zoom meeting on Saturday mornings, where Christian women pray about the Coronavirus and the Shelter In Place order. I’m asking God to eradicate this virus from the earth forever, protect me and my loved ones from getting it, to heal the sick, and for governors and mayors to lift the order(s) in their states and cities, when it is safe to do so.

This is a very difficult time for everyone. Just know that God loves you and is here for you, and this too shall pass. 

I’m praying for you. Please also keep my family and me in your prayers. 

*******

Need some encouragement to pray? Check out my ebook on prayer, Walking With God, available for just 99 cents on Amazon today. You can find out more here

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Blog, Ebooks, Family, Friendship, Writing

True friends

Me and my BFF Maria

Me and my BFF Maria

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.”– Elisabeth Foley

In my blog on spring, A Chance at Life Again, I shared about my first children’s book that I’m writing, which should be launched in mid-March or late March 2020. It is about my and our daughter Leah’s black cats, Natalya (Nat) and Jax. The theme is friendship. 

Jax and Natalya

Jax and Natalya

I’ve never been the type of person to have tons of friends. Usually, I have anywhere from two to 10 close friends, with whom there is a depth of relationship, instead of having a lot of friends, where the relationships are shallow and even superficial.

In high school, there were cliques. Depending on your looks, clothes, type of car you owned, class grades, your family’s economic status, and more ridiculous things, the cliques were:

    • the “popular” group (usually rich, good-looking people who everyone wanted to be friends with);
    • nerds (intelligent students in the accelerated learning classes, and sometimes the popular kids were in this group, too);
    • jocks (students who played football or basketball, wrestled, were on the gymnastics team, and/or who participated in other sports and were good at them–they were often in the popular clique, too);
    • druggies (kids who usually smoked cigarettes and/or pot, drank alcohol, and/or took other drugs. Some of the popular kids indulged in drinking and drugs, and would have parties);
    • others who didn’t fit into any of the above cliques.  Painfully shy and socially awkward, I was in this group, often eating my lunch alone. It was a difficult, lonely time. As I matured and grew older, I learned better social skills and began developing close friendships. Today my friends are a vital part of my life, and I love them so much! You know who you are!

     

    I believe that Jesus’ ministry time here on earth exemplifies the types of relationships we can have with others:

  • The crowds of people whom Jesus taught. This would be similar to your and my Facebook “friends,” who are really more acquaintances (or even strangers we don’t know), our social media “peeps,” audiences where we speak, readers of our books and our blogs, etc.
  • Jesus’ disciples. These included men and women who followed Him more closely. These would be friends who we start to spend more fun time with, such as having over for dinner at our houses, doing a Bible study with at church or in our homes, etc.
  • Jesus’ 12 disciples. Your friends who you begin to confide in, asking prayer requests from (I have a team of intercessors who pray for me and my family), hang out with for a bbq and a movie at your house, people who are aware of the more personal details of your lives, whom you can really trust. Jesus chose these 12 men after all night in prayer, so they would spend time with Him, to preach, and to cast out demons. They would later spread the gospel throughout the world. These would be like my friends Liz, Ruth, Gala, Susan, Jane, Stephanie, and Dana.
  • The inner circle of 3, Peter, James, and John.  They are always listed first in the Biblical record whenever the apostles are listed by name. Peter along with his brother Andrew, along with James and his brother John, were the first set of disciples called by Jesus to follow Him. These three were the only disciples to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37-42; Luke 8:50-55); Christ’s Transfiguration on the Mount (Matthew 17:1-2); and Jesus travailing in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane, before He was crucified (Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36).  Jeff Atchinson said, “the Perfect Leader, Jesus, showed us the importance of narrowing in on a smaller circle for the highest degree of intimate training.” These would be like your best friends, who you’d trust with your very life. You know they  are loyal and they always have your back! These are usually people who, even if you go separate ways (such as moving), you can always pick right back up where you were the last time you saw each other, such as my friends Shelley Valasek and Kim Weber.
  • John who lay on Jesus’ breast, hearing His heartbeat. This is your very best friend. For me, that would be my daughters and my sister Maria. These are the ones I laugh with and cry with. They really know me–and love me anyway! My sister and I talk about everything, and we understand each other so well (we both have the same kind of warped humor!). 

Sometimes we meet people who are definitely not and will never be our friends. They simply rub us the wrong way, and/or vice versa. 

The Bible says in Romans 12:18 NASB, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I believe this passage indicates that sometimes it is not possible. I think this is often due to personality types. They (or you!) are bossy, manipulative, narcissistic, controlling, rude, hateful, arrogant, or have something about them that just irritates or angers you. Sometimes people rub you the wrong way and/or vice versa. You know the type: people with an attitude who you feel like just slapping, but you control yourself!

woman shooting bird

I’ve experienced this in my own life, even recently. There was a woman at a part-time job where I worked for a season who, for whatever reason, seemed to not like me at all and would get easily angry at me. I tried my best to be nice to her, but she’d storm out of the office, offended over what seemed to be little, ridiculous things. Sad to say, we never got along. I no longer work there, and I’m so glad that I don’t have to deal with her any more!

Not everyone is going to like you or get along with you, or you with them. We can try our best to walk in God’s agape, unconditional love and forgive, but you and that person may never become friends. 

Woman in jacket. Source: Unsplash

Woman in jacket
Source: Unsplash

However, sometimes it IS possible. My children’s book is about that hope. I’m praying to launch it soon.

If you aren’t already signed up on my website’s mailing list, be sure to sign up with your name and email address on the welcome page at the bottom of the page. You’ll also get my free video training for speakers and writers about sharing your heart’s message, when you do. 

I’m personally so thankful for the friends I do have. Like my salvation through Christ and my family, I consider them a precious gift from God. 

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

Me and my precious friend Shelley Valasek, at the fountains by Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO

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