No doubt these are stressful times for all of us. We’re trying to get life back to normal again but there’s stress about health risks and keeping our families safe. Our anxiety- while certainly understandable- may be on overload as we worry about getting back on track with our usual routines while families stress about less money coming in from loss of work or reduced hours. Will we be able to pay our bills and keep the fridge filled with food for our hungry kids? Parents may be struggling to be good teachers as our schools use hybrid modes of learning and our children master virtual platforms. Perhaps your teenager, who was a busy server on the weekends at a local restaurant to save money for college, is now sitting at home without a job and worrying about the future. I could go on… but each of us know the unique struggles we all are facing in this strange new world.

Anxiety generally happens when we think about a future event with dread. How we experience our anxiety differs from person to person. Some of us worry and ruminate. Some of us avoid situations and some of us have intense physical reactions such as the feeling of your heart racing, headaches or shortness of breath.

Each of us is different and so there are various coping strategies we may each try to help handle our anxiety. Here’s what I work on to help relieve stress and worry: for the most part, when I feel that worry creeping into my thoughts, I really focus on looking for the positive spin on future events. I remind myself that my worry-the thing I dread-has not happened yet. I can certainly convince myself that it is going to be awful or I can use self-talk to convince myself that it’s eventually going to be fine. Since the event has not happened yet, the choice is mine. Frankly, it makes sense to me to assume that everything is going to work out. These challenges which pop up in our lives are really the chance to count our blessings and encourage the feeling of gratitude. They are really an opportunity for growth-even when it is hard.

So how do we look for the silver lining in this pandemic situation-this crisis- which has changed our lives in big and in small ways? Hopefully this pause on life as we knew it will prompt us to reflect on what’s important. Let’s hope it is slowing us down and tapping into our compassion for others. We are seeing stories across our community about kindness, about special efforts to care for the less fortunate-whether it is making masks, running a food bank, holding virtual prayer sessions, honoring health care workers or making a pot of soup to share with our elderly neighbor. We may now see that in some ways technology has really distorted our experience of our humanity. Why drive to see a friend when you can send a text? Why have kids play in the sunshine when they can stay indoors and play video games? Why make a meal for a neighbor when I can drive up and grab enough food for myself?

This pandemic offers us the opportunity to recalibrate our humanity. So perhaps this is the time to be mindful in creating your new normal. Set new goals for yourself and your family. Playing games together, reading together, cooking and sharing meals that are no longer “on the run” are all positives. Small business owners are taking this time to rethink their business plan and how to thrive post-pandemic. Teachers are re-tooling for their new normal with virtual learning. Maybe it’s time to explore our local farms and learn more about our food sources. And…. nothing beats LaPorte County produce, fruit, beef, poultry and pork grown just a few miles down the road!

Want to engage in socially distant activities? Get outside. Take a long walk and really notice the world around you. Play catch with your daughter! Teach her the finer points of playing shortstop. Once the next baseball season arrives, she’ll be at the top of her game. Look for the silver linings in your daily life—- and be safe.

About the Author: Dr. Reinaldo Matias

Dr. Reinaldo Matias is a clinical psychologist who provides care and therapy for children, teens and adults at Lighthouse Counseling and Wellness in Michigan City. He can be reached at or 219-916-0239.

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