Too scared to go out- some things to remember

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As lockdown is eased, single person households have been told they can ‘bubble’ with another household. After so many weeks this prospect has been a source of joy for some, and anxiety for others:

  • Is it safe to go out?
  • Will people want me to be in their ‘bubble’?
  • Do I initiate the socializing, or do I wait to be asked?
  • What if I have a panic attack while I’m out?

 

There is no shame in feeling fearful. Coronanxiety, as it’s been called, can take many forms. There are things that can help, either for you or for a friend.

 

  • Prayer – alone and with others. Remember that God is with you. You are not isolated. Read Psalm 139. These verses may help too: Isaiah 35:4, Psalm 56:3, Hebrews 13:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:16 , Philippians 4:6 and this from 1 Peter 5:7: ‘Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.’

 

  • Take it seriously. We would never say ‘just get over it’, or ‘it’s nothing, don’t worry about it’. 1 Corinthians 13 says ‘Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud’. Loving others recognizes we are all different, and that is ok.

 

  • Be patient with yourself and others. Our feelings, thoughts and behaviours are related, but separate. It takes time to work out why we feel the way we do, and to change behaviours and habits. God is patient with us. We may need to be patient with ourselves.

 

  • Think about the triggers: are there particular scenarios, even imagined, which increase anxiety? Understanding these will help. Commit them to God in prayer – walk with Him in it.

 

  • Think about next steps. Sometimes gradually exposing yourself the source of fear (like going to the shops, or visiting people) can help provide a long term solution through gradual exposure. Start with something easy and slowly build up over time.

 

  • Listen – and talk. We need friends at this time. If you are struggling, tell someone. They might be able to help you take the next steps, and pray with and for you. If a friend is struggling, be a safe space where they can talk without judgement.

 

  • Choose to be grateful. It can change your thinking. Philippians 4, let’s try to ‘learn the secret of being content in every situation’. Activities can help: crafts, jigsaws, games, cooking, exercise, writing, reading. Gardening, or even just nurturing a plant or flower, has been proven to have huge positive impact on mental wellbeing.

 

  • If necessary, find professional help from the NHS.

 

Revd Will Van Der Hart, founder of the Mind Soul Foundation and author of the Worry Book, spoke at Holy Trinity Brompton, gave these three tips on coping with isolation:

Remember you are not isolated, from God or others. Use gratitude. Don’t catastrophise, (where you overestimate the danger, and underestimate your ability to cope). Jesus said ‘don’t worry about tomorrow – today has enough worries of its own’. We don’t need to worry about what hasn’t happened yet.

 

There are resources at the Mind Soul Foundation https://www.mindandsoulfoundation.org/

There are verses with images and encouragements here.

 

There are Christian videos to watch:

Patrick Regan: ‘Where faith and mental health meet’ at the Elim Leader’s Conference.

‘Tackling Anxiety’, from the Spring Harvest 2020 conference.

 

There is a free downloadable or printable/customisable copy of Christian ‘Inspire’ magazine, with stories, tips and resources here.

 

There are also lots of helpful videos from Anxiety UK; and an old but useful and printable self-help guide to agoraphobia here.

 

‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus’. – Philippians 4 v 6-7