Overwhelmed? Tips for coping in the third wave

We are living in an extremely difficult and unpredictable situation right now so if you feel overwhelmed, know that you are not alone.

Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Feeling overwhelmed and perhaps sad, angry or scared, is a normal response to this time of collective trauma. Be kind and patient with yourself. 
  • If you get very anxious, breathe in slowly for seven counts and out for 11 or name five things you can see; hear; touch in your immediate surroundings. This can ground you. 
  • When we are anxious, we ruminate or replay worst-case scenarios in our heads. Distraction with something simple that absorbs our focus can help, such as singing along to worship music, doing a cross-word or Sudoku, or listening to an audiobook.  
  • Getting some exercise can lift one’s mood.
  • If you battle to sleep, try a guided meditation before bed.
  • With so much out of our control, creating order and rhythm in our day gives us some consistency. For Example, going for a short walk at the same time each day.
  • If you are not in crisis yourself, reach out to someone who is struggling. By listening to someone who is grieving, you become a minister of consolation. Perhaps someone you know is sick at home and would love some soup dropped off. Help someone register for the vaccine or do online shopping for someone not able to. 
  • Do something creative – baking, gardening, painting, writing or doing handwork. Bringing something new into the world can help you feel a renewed sense of purpose and energy. 
  • When you feel paralysed and overwhelmed, focus on doing one simple next task – what I like to call “the next right thing.” It could be simply making the bed or responding to an important email, or just taking ten minutes to sit in the sun.
  • Community is critical now. Community is a sense of belonging where others are concerned about our well-being and we about theirs. Where we cannot meet, staying connected with others we care about through messages and calls has become a lifeline for many. Community is at the heart of our faith. 
  • Breathe in the fresh air and soak in some sun. God has gifted us with such beauty in our natural environment. Stop and smell the flowers, watch the birds, notice the colours of the sunset. 
  • Talk to someone about how you really feel. Don’t bottle it up. Seek professional help when grief or anxiety makes it hard to function. 
  • Prioritise time with God in prayer. This time basking in God’s presence strengthens us and renews our faith, hope and love. It enables us to be people who witness to God’s love and light in this time of suffering. 

On Monday nights, 8.00 pm – 8.30 pm for the next few weeks, we invite you to join us online via zoom for a time of prayer in the pandemic. A piece of music, a guided time of prayer, and an opportunity to share prayer requests. Email me at  a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za to request the zoom link.

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
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