Like everyone in the world, my life changed at the beginning of 2020 and it will never be the same.  During this time of world-wide quarantines, there are many lessons I have learned.  I am sure you have also discovered some interesting things about yourself during this season.

In January 2020, I had resigned from my job and planned to take some time to establish a health consulting business.  I had prepared financially not to work for awhile so I could get things in order.  “The Virus” was around but at the time nothing in my life had shifted. And I was scheduled to attend a Health Retreat in Georgia mid-March.  Little did I know that my life would be changed during that week.  When I entered Georgia, the U.S. was one way and when I left to come back home to Virginia the world had shutdown.  For me, life was not stressful, it was just weird.  As I prepared to go home, I stopped at the grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia because I had no idea what was going on at home.  So, I decided to pick up some essentials.  Well to my surprise, as I walked into the grocery store, I thought the apocalypse had happened.  There were no paper products at all, meats, frozen foods and canned goods were scare.  The funny thing is there were plenty of fresh produce so I loaded up on fruits and vegetables. 

Since I had not seen the news while at the retreat, I was unaware of the frenzy.  All I know was there was a lockdown which was not supposed to last more than a few weeks or at the most a few months.  I was fine because by nature I am an introvert and had planned to be down for most of the year anyway.  But the more the lockdowns were extended and the continuous news of the devastation with the COVID-19 virus, my mood and personality seemed to changed.

Being in the unfamiliar and unstable place of “Just not knowing” what was to come forced me to adjust. I had to figure out how I was going to handle this.  The only thing I had to compare this time to was 9/11 when I was a young adult.  On September 11, 2001, life changed but as I remember there were no lock-downs and I was not separated from my family and friends.  I still had a community where I was able to interact in person.  It was really a time to prioritize what was important because of the event that devastated the nation.

However, as I began to reflect on and evaluate how I had handled the past 18 months, I believe we have transitioned into a new era.  And I have learned some important lessons:

Lesson 1:  The Power of Fear

The reason this is my first lesson is fear was very prevalent especially when the pandemic started.  Since I was forced into isolation, I watched more media and engaged with technology more than I normally did.  Before I was working and participating in church activities.  And there was more to do besides view media.  However, in isolation whatever I did tended to have some sort of technology attached.  In the beginning, I was watching the news just to keep up with what was happening in anticipation of getting back to “normal” life.  But as things dragged on I noticed communication was stuck on negative.  There was no hope of ever coming out.  And the focus on the numbers of people who tested positive for COVID and who had died became overbearing.  It was not a matter of compassion for what people where dealing with but knowing that our human brains can only ingest so much negativity before becoming overwhelmed.  “Fear” was the theme of the day and if I wanted some relief, it was up to me to take the reins and reel things in for myself. 

As a healthcare professional, I know how devastating “fear, stress and anxiety” can be to our bodies.  It severely reduces the effectiveness of the immune system, increases insulin levels therefore; it increases the appetite.  It messes with dopamine and serotonin levels causing mood changes and depression, it increases gastric acid leading to gastrointestinal problems, it throws off sleeping cycles and so more.  We may not always feel the stress outwardly but our inner self is going crazy.  I became very concerned with the effect of the fear from COVID more than the disease at that point.  The rate of chronic disease will increase from these traumatic effects of stress because the fear has never turned off and allowed our bodies a chance to recalibrate.  Even though some things have opened up there is still unresolved stress because we are not out of the woods yet with this virus.

Personally, I have had to disengage with media and have tried to reduce the time I spend with technology.  So, I use technology as a tool and not for entertainment.  I have started to read all the books I have purchased but never read.  And I noticed within the first three days, my mood has totally shifted.  It is necessary to give our bodies a chance to recoup and if we never take the time if even for 15 minutes, we can increase our chances for chronic disease.

I learned recently from a webinar I took at INR called, “Deconstructing Anxiety and Overcoming Fear”, that fear is the #1 reason for all disease processes in the U.S.  Other nations do not have this problem but America has a huge issue as we live a stress-filled lifestyle. At some point you will need to take purposeful action to incorporate some behavior changes or you will pay the cost later.

I suggest take Isaiah 26:3-4 to heart, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for YAH, the Lord is everlasting strength.”  It is a time to reflect and change your priorities to what is really important.  Do you really need to see the news 24/7?  Does the constant barrage of media and technology improve life for the good or bad?  You have a purpose to fulfill even if you do not know what it is.  And you only have a short time when you think about eternity to complete it.

Time may be better spent with spiritual growth, taking care of your body, and spending time connected to family and friends.  All of these things help your body cope with stress in our physiology. Have you spent time with Holy Spirit so you can even discover what you are to do and how the time of the pandemic can help you set new priorities and to put God first?  There are more lessons I will share but I encourage you to face your fears and begin to think differently about your life.  Use the scripture below as a plan to begin to overcome fear, stress and anxiety.  Let me know what you think in comments concerning the first lesson I have learned and I look forward to sharing more with you.

Philippians 4:4-8 (NLT)

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

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