Today I found a dinosaur in my freezer.
We’d left the freezer to defrost (for the first time in about two years – no joke!)
When I opened the door there it was, staring back at me.
It looked totally out of place.
Well, in a toddler’s mind, a freezer was the perfect world for it to live in. But I knew it didn’t belong there. Not that I’m a palaeontologist or anything, but you’d never logically associate dinosaurs with thriving in icy conditions, would you?
Some people think the ice age killed off the dinosaurs, some say it was Noah’s flood, and others think that they just died out over time. Whatever option you choose, it was an environmental change that made living conditions impossible.
I don’t know about you, but at the moment I feel a bit like that dinosaur in my freezer.
Suddenly people are telling us that the environment we’ve always lived in, laughed in and loved in is now hostile and threatening. Everything feels a bit surreal at the moment; it’s as if we’ve been been plunged into the pages of some apocalyptic novel.
The truth is, if I hadn’t rescued that poor little guy from the cold and ice, he would have been frozen solid. And it got me thinking, what positive actions are needed in the midst of this pandemic? What steps can we take to stop the surrounding panic from paralysing us?
If you’ve ever had a panic attack, or been with someone who’s having one, you’ll know of a technique called ‘grounding.’ Put simply, it’s focusing on what is right in front of you – on what you can see, hear, taste, smell and touch – to draw back from multiple potential futures and experience more deeply what’s happening in the present.
So here’s some useful questions to ask yourself when you begin to feel fear frosting you over at this time:
#1 What can I see?
If you’re anything like me, you’re spending a lot of your time these days worrying about the safety of those you love.
When I find myself worrying about others, instead of allowing myself to catastrophize or go down a rabbit hole of anxious thoughts, I’ve found it really helpful to connect with them in some way. Whether it be in conversation or in writing, I tell them how much I love them and are thankful for them. Either that, or I say a prayer of thanks for the warmth and richness they bring to my life.
This has a double benefit; not only does it bless the person you encourage, but it brings you back into the present and allows you to experience the joy of knowing them in that moment.
The same goes for nature. Its beauty is all around us. It hasn’t gone away, and it won’t anytime soon. Stop and take a look at what you can see and experience the wonder again. Be thankful for what you see.
#2 What do I know?
There’s a lot of uncertainty as to what’s ahead. What will happen with schools? How will businesses survive? How will we worship together again? When can I hug my mum?
Let me say that projections and predictions will not help you any, they will just feed your fears. Limit how many news reports you watch or read, and focus each day on what you do know!
- As a Christian, I do know God is always close and that He has promised never to leave me.
- I know I have friends and family who love me.
- I know that right now I have breath in my lungs and my heart is beating.
- I know I have a new day to fill with love, life, learning and laughter.
Yes, I might not know what tomorrow will bring. But I do have today. I have people who love me, and I have a God who walks with me this very moment, in every moment.
#3 What can I do?
There’s a lot of things about this situation that we can’t control.
We have no way of knowing how the virus will spread and who will be affected by it. We can’t prevent widespread loss of jobs, relationships or life. We can’t go wherever we want or see who we normally see.
But why not focus on the things we can do?
- We can follow the government guidelines
- We can eat as much nutritional food as possible to boost immunity
- We can do exercise to help our mood
- We can limit our screen time
- We can finish that little project we’ve been meaning to do for ages
- We can connect with family and friends
- We can talk to our neighbours
- We can collect for our local food bank
- We can reach out to those who are isolated and let them know we care.
We have the gift of time. Let’s focus on what we can do with it.
Focus on what you can see, right now
Focus on what you do know, each day
Focus on what you can do, in this time.
Don’t let fear freeze you solid. Instead, let the gifts you have right in front of you thaw your heart and open the door of your life to thankfulness and gratitude.