If you’re anything like me, my guess is all the news surrounding the coronavirus has made your anxiety shoot through the roof. I’ve been dealing with an allergic reaction or sinus infection and it’s had me feeling like my throat is closing up on my as I sleep. I notice it much worse when I get really anxious and though I know it’s partly health-related, I’m convinced my worries are worsening the symptoms.
It reminds me of a previous season filled with anxiety. Pregnant with Vivi. I’ve shared this story many times as it’s when I created our original prompted prayer journal but I always say how I was desperate enough to make the journal in the first place because I didn’t want to be breathing into a paper bag for 9 months.
Truly, I’m starting to feel that now. But if that experience taught me anything, it’s that I can have peace and joy even in uncertain times.
That’s a super lovely thought but I know just because we’re reminded of Scriptures to read in fearful times or be told to pray more, it doesn’t mean we’re going to know how to respond with that in the middle of anxiety. So today I wanted to share some really practical things to do to get a good mental game plan because I feel like this is vitally important to how we walk through this season.
I don’t want to be consumed with news stories hours before bed and go to sleep anxious and unable to breathe deeply. I don’t want to live in fear OR make unwise decisions for my family. I don’t want to respond to my loved ones angrily because I’m so spun up with fear…like I did two nights ago….
I’m about to throw a lot of practical things at you. You don’t need to incorporate them all but I highly recommend prayerfully considering what would draw you into the Lord’s presence most.
1. MORNING AFFIRMATIONS
I wrote a whole post on this here but we need to figure out the truth that we need to be reminded of daily specifically in this season and we need to make a plan for how, when and where we will remind ourselves of these things. I have a page of affirmations at the back of my planner. You can add them to your prayer journal too. But make a concrete plan to review the truths you need to be reminded of so that the inundation of information from the world doesn’t get bigger than what we know to be true.
Here are some examples of things I want to remember right now:
- God is bigger than the coronavirus (Psalm 46).
- We should consider it a joy when we face trials because it transforms us (James 1:2-4).
- I can experience peace in my soul in the midst of chaotic circumstances (Number 6:24-26 – a blessing given during wartime).
- I can (and should!) turn my eyes from worthless things (i.e. Some news outlets are there to inform us but most are more concerned with ratings. And Coronavirus is selling bigtime right now so I need to look away from most of it.) (Psalm 119:37)
2. PRAYER CHALLENGE
We’re gonna have a 14-day prayer challenge with daily things to pray for related to this epidemic. It will be in stories on @ValWoerner, @ValMariePaper and our FB stories too. I didn’t want to be redundant if you follow us on both accounts but I’m ok with that in this case because I don’t want you to miss it and being reminded twice to pray for something is worth a little repetition. We’re hoping to start this tomorrow but make sure you are following along and checking stories.
3. FRESH START DEVOTIONAL
If you like the idea of a daily reminder to pray, but prefer something off the screen, we highly recommend our Fresh Start devotional on prayer. It’s a 31-day devotional to help create the habit of prayer and it comes with a month of prompts. I think looking back on this month-long journal would be a powerful reminder of this unique time in our history through the lens of prayer. I’ll be talking a lot more about this over the next few weeks but saying “I’ll be praying” when something big like this happens CAN’T just be platitudes.
4. FILL YOUR HOME WITH WORSHIP
I remember reading in one of Stormie Omartian’s books just how effective listening to and singing worship can be. If I’m honest, most days I see it as extra, but to have words of truth ringing in our ear, words that we can join in praising and glorifying God, what power! And can the enemy really stand in the presence of praise of the Lord? If you’re going to be home with kids for a month, I’d also check out this whole post about creating mood playlists.
5. HOUSE PRAYERS
We went to Lowe’s on Saturday and the consensus for many it seems is that if we’re gonna be home a lot, we’re gonna tackle some home projects. I plan on going through Mika Perry’s organization course and working on a few things. If you’ve had the same thoughts, make a point to pray as you work in your home. We have a worksheet called House Prayers with things to pray in each room of your house. Print it out and post it somewhere you’ll see often. Get it here.
6. KEEP YOUR BIBLE AND PRAYER JOURNAL OUT
After my panic attack a few years ago, I was completely on edge for a few weeks and I kept my Bible open on a cookbook stand in my living room. I could pass by and easily scan a passage and fill up with truth. I think you can do the same with your prayer journal.
7. RESPOND DIFFERENTLY WITH JOY
For the mommas, pull out your copy of Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday and read a few pages before they wake up for the day or wake up from nap. I wrote this book to help us live out motherhood different from the world. Right now I’m already seeing the most depressing memes about the quarantine and Christian moms, that’s not our story. If you don’t have a copy of the book, check out the free 7-day YouVersion plan here. Also, if you have a copy of our 31-day devotional Fresh Start for Moms, Day 7, 9, 11, 26, 31 may be particularly helpful to look back over.
8. REBUKE THE ENEMY
Sometimes I give the enemy too much power and let him hang around and lie to me more than we should. We will always be tempted to worry because like 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Let’s stay aware of him but also rebuke him quickly and not give him attention beyond the temptation. James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I thought this article on the topic was really interesting.
9. TAKE SOME DEEP BREATHS
This might seem overly simple but we need to take some deep breaths. When we’re anxious we breathe shorter breaths and it negatively impacts us. Make a point to take some deep breaths in the morning and evening. There are apps that literally remind you to take some deep breaths!
10. REMEMBER THE GOOD THINGS HAPPENING
I’ve been following this account and it’s been so encouraging to see the good coming out of such a tragic situation. I would suggest as a practical plan looking at this after reading any. anxiety-inducing news.
11. READ A BOOK ON PRAYER
I pray more when I’m constantly reminded of how powerful prayer is and that I’m not just talking to the ceiling. Here are some of our favorites.
12. SEE THE LINK OF PRAYER AND OUR BRAINS
We did a 90-minute training on how prayer can change my mind and thought patterns and take me from anxiety, dread and stress to peace, joy and calm. Watch it here.
13. SPEND LESS, NOT MORE TIME ON PHONES
Less contact with people means it will be really easy to turn to our phones to get that human interaction but science knows and we know likes don’t give us a community. Plan out the time you spend on your phone intentionally like phone calls or messages with friends and not mindless scrolling. I recently wrote two posts about how I am spending less time on my phone and how to plan out your time if it feels impossible.
14. PAIR PRAYER WITH FASTING
Does fasting seem a little extreme or extra in the world of spiritual disciplines? I get it! But doesn’t NOW seem a little extreme too and worth us trying something that feels hard? I shared thoughts on how fasting has impacted me lately as well as some tips for getting started here.
I didn’t intend for this to be a list of products or content of ours to share, but as I started creating the list, I thought of more and more things we’ve created in the past that would be super helpful in this season. I’m a naturally fearful and melancholy girl so I shouldn’t be surprised that a ton of our content has to do with reshaping our thoughts. I hope it’s encouraging to you! And PLEASE share it with a friend. This season can draw us closer to the Lord like never before or we can sink into the anxious version the world offers us. My prayer is that believers will take courage and shine a bright light as we live out of faith instead of fear.