We teamed up Rev. Jonathan Vanderbeck, LMSW, an ordained minister and licensed psychotherapist, to talk about the role of anxiety amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
If you’re like me, you might have some anxiety. That’s normal and understandable. Anxiety is part of being alive. That’s true even in “usual” times and it’s even more natural and understandable given the current circumstances.
In this video, Jonathan share exactly what anxiety is, what exactly our responses to it are (there are 4! he explains each), and what specifically we can do to manage our anxiety and anxious responses (no shame, no blame).
These are timeless tools that are particularly relevant in our present moment.
You can watch here:
Here are the questions that we covered, with some overall notes below.
- I’ve heard you say that we need to not let our brains spin with anxiety. But the fear is REAL! This isn’t some imaginary threat, it’s REAL! How do we handle very real threats to ourselves and not be anxious? [8:42]
- What are some PRACTICAL ways to reduce my anxiety? Does going for a walk HONESTLY make a difference? [12:00]
- I’m a pastor, and super caught off guard by my own anxious responses over the last few days. Any advice for holding my own anxiety while also needing to be a soft place for other anxious folks to land? [18:45]
- I can’t tell what is real and what is speculation any more and I think I’m making my anxiety worse. Any suggestions? [24:30]
- This is triggering my OCD/anxiety disorder. Basically, this is my worst nightmare. I don’t know what to do! [33:11]
- How can we help each other while we’re not feeling great ourselves? [45:47 and 18:45]
- I’m wondering about comforting and caring for folks who are being triggered by this Pandemic back to the trauma of the AIDS epidemic. [50:50]
Thanks to Hope Zane for taking some notes on the talk
- Anxiety is an organism’s response to real or imagined threat. Redirecting anxious behaviors with small tasks that assert autonomy (taking a walk, putting on clean clothes, taking a shower) is the goal, not stopping the anxiety itself. To be anxious is to be human. [6:24 and 8:42]
- Ideally, try to share your fears with people who can sit with them in a nonreactive, minimally anxious way so y’all don’t create an anxiety spiral for each other [21:25]
- Re: news- focus on fact and not speculation. If you go down the speculation road, ask yourself “if this speculated fear comes to pass, will it affect my day-to-day life?” focus on what you can control [26:40]
- The anxious response: how you feel, how you think, your physiology (heart rate, breathing), what you do. You can’t really change the feeling response, so focus on the rest. [28:14]
- Give people grace for the toilet paper bullshit. It symbolizes control over a small thing. Be curious about people’s hoarding behavior and consider compassion [33:40]
- Normalize your own anxiety, especially when you know you’re doing something irrational but nevertheless feel compelled to do it [41:20]
- Acknowledge that someone’s feelings are as real and bad as they say it is. [42:45]
- Don’t be surprised at how quickly you burn out while trying to help others’ feelings and needs during this crisis. Take care of yourself. It’s not selfishness. Helpers have limitations and aren’t immune to anxiety. [48:00]
- Even experts are having panic attacks, man. No one is immune. Cut yourself slack. [40:50]
- Deep breathing literally does help. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 6 seconds, exhale for 8 seconds. (Remember 4-6-8) [55:31]
- TAKE YOUR ALLERGY MEDS IF YOU HAVE ALLERGIES. Having to wonder why you’re sneezing or congested is going to stress you the fuck out. [1:01:00]
- We’re all in this together <3 [1:03:38]
If you would like to make a payment to Rev. Jonathan for his work here, you can do so via Venmo or CashTag: RevJonathan on both.
If you would like an amazingly supportive online community and in-depth resources for LGBTQ Christians so that you integrate your faith and your sexuality/gender, explore connections between the sacred & the sexy, deepen your faith, make friends from around the world, and be supported in your faith + life journey, learn more about Sanctuary Collective