What do Worry Time and a Good Meltdown Have to Do with Well-Being?

What do Worry Time and a Good Meltdown Have to Do with Well-Being?

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Hour, by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month… how long will it take for life to return to some kind of normal or new normal? The federal, regional, and local government news briefings, news reports, COVID 19 statistics, food distribution needs and social disparities fill television and social media platforms. Even commercials and late-night comedy shows talk of COVID 19. How can we maintain any balance or sense of well-being in this trying time?

The Church Health Center Model for Healthy Living identifies seven areas of life that are interconnected in the fulfillment of a healthy life. The key areas of focus are: Faith Life, Movement, Medical, Work, Emotional, Nutrition, Friends and Family.

When I look at each of these areas, they all are negatively impacted by the current global pandemic.
 
  • Worship services have moved on-line. This is a good alternative for many but not for all, those who do not have the technology or the knowledge to use the technology are unable to join in the communal worship. 
  • Our movement is restricted to staying 6 feet from each other, out of the gym and usual exercise routines.
  • Our healthcare system has delayed many planned procedures, is overwhelmed with COVID 19 care, so many office MD visits are virtual or postponed.
  • Jobs have been lost, millions are unemployed and struggling.
  • Emotionally, people are becoming depressed, anxious, and fearful.
  • Food supplies are highly variable, those out of work cannot afford groceries, food banks are expanding their service.
  • Our contact with family and friends is mostly by phone, email, Zoom, Facetime and social media. We miss the human contact the smiles we cannot see behind the masks.
Are there positive impacts for a balanced life caused by the pandemic? I think there are.  Let’s look again at each area of a healthy life.
 
  • On-line worship is bringing more people to the services than when they were in person! Congregations are calling each other on the phone to check on each other. People are continuing to pray for each other and the world.
  • Movement through walks in the park or in neighborhoods maintaining social distancing, neighbors are waving to each other and calling out greetings. Yoga, Pilates, meditation, and cross-fit classes are offered free on-line.
  • Gaps in medical care equity and access are being highlighted, a negative finding for sure, but increased awareness has the potential to improve this situation.
  • Some employers are refocusing their work to assist in the pandemic and keep their employees working safely.
  • Mental health awareness messages are increasing, many are sharing their gifts and talents to promote calm and positive moments.
  • Recipes are being shared as we eat out less often.
  • And family and friends are finding novel ways to keep in touch.
I am not suggesting that all the turmoil we hear and feel each day can be resolved by thinking positively, yet there is research to support that counting our blessings each day can promote a more positive outlook on life and physically promote greater well-being.

Here are three suggestions from experts that are easy to use yourself:

1. Three Good Things. Dr Martin Seligman recommends writing as a gratitude exercise that becomes a daily habit. Writing helps you focus. Reflecting increases your sense of control and doing this every day for two weeks makes it a habit and improves your sense of well-being.
  • Every night, just before you go to bed, sit down for a while and look back at your day.
  • Then think of three things that went well for you during the day.
  • Write them down. Reflect and brood upon each of them.
2. Schedule Some Worry Time. Psychiatrist Dr. Richia Bhatia and The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies recommend setting aside a half-hour for worry time each day to identify worries that you have some control over and those over which you have no control. This allows you to be more present to the moment for the rest of the day. Recognizing our anxieties and naming them when they are overwhelming us as worry can help us set aside the worry for a time.

3. Max Lucado: Grant Yourself a Good Meltdown. This YouTube devotional time encourages us to give ourselves time to tell God what is really on our mind. Lucado calls it a Good Meltdown Time with God to talk, yell, exclaim our dissatisfaction, our worry, our prayers. He suggests we let those around us know that we are going to have our meltdown time so that they do not get concerned. Once we spend about five minutes in petition with God, it is time to move on with the day. Lucado counsels us not to stay in the meltdown as through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.

These simple practices can give outlet to the complex emotions that flow through us at this time in our world. God is with us. Experts will guide us. We can work to focus on glimmers of hope, glimmers of beauty and glimmers of peace despite the storm.

Author

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Deborah Ringen

Deborah Ringen is Transitional Minister of Health and Wellness for the Southern New England Conference, UCC.

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