By Kathy Keary
A three-part series with ideas to ease stress, anxiety and depression in troubled times.
Part 3 of 3. All articles are here.
Undoubtedly, we are living in challenging times; however, I suspect for many this is not your first rodeo, so to speak. Difficulties have a way of entering our lives and upsetting our routines.
In the Christian tradition, living the Paschal Mystery — the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus — is raised up as a template for our lives. I have found that embracing the crosses that pop up in my life opens my heart to be touched by the new life offered in the Resurrection. Placing our hope in this cycle, a cycle that is also reflected in nature, can be life giving.
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If we are experiencing difficulties coping during this time, the mindset offered in the Paschal Mystery invites us to own these emotions, but at the same time, trust in the promise that this too will pass. And when it does, personal growth will have likely occurred.
We offer further suggestions that may benefit you during trying times:
- Focusing is a practice in which one reverences the wisdom of the body for the sake of healing. I personally have found Focusing to be very beneficial and a healthy way to deal with the emotions that stir within. Please see our series on Focusing for details.
- Art journaling is a fun exercise in mindfulness as our focus is pinpointed on the artwork we are creating. Practices that encourage remaining present to what is in front of us relieves us of worries and concerns about the future and shames and regrets of the past. We refer you to our article on the contemplative practice of art journaling, Adding Your Own Color, that may help you to get started.
- Along the same line as art journaling is painting small rocks to be left in places such as parks and walking trails where people will find them and be touched by their message. This has the added benefit of putting a smile on the face of another person which uplifts us in the process.
- “Mandala” is a Sanskrit that translates to mean “circle,” but a mandala is far more than a simple shape. According to The Mandala Project, a mandala “represents wholeness, and can be seen as a model for the organizational structure of life itself — a cosmic diagram that reminds us of our relation to the infinite.” Coloring mandalas is an excellent way to experience healing by being present in the moment. Free mandalas to print and color are available at https://mondaymandala.com
- Imagine an image that evokes peace or calm. It could be of nature, a person, or scriptural in origin. For instance, the images I visualize tend to be straight out of the Easter season, namely the Risen Lord at the entrance of the empty tomb, walking with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, or sitting with him as he cooks fish on the beach. Train your mind to return to this image when it is carried away by worry. Using this technique when sleep is hard to come by can be helpful. Employing an image versus a sacred word in meditation can be quite nurturing as well.
- This may sound strange if you have never done this, but here goes. Engage in a conversation with your emotion. This practice fosters the acceptance of the emotion giving yourself permission to feel it. It promotes an understanding of the various levels of the emotion. Awareness of what the feeling entails is increased. Insights surface. I recommend that you journal this conversation as putting pen to paper has a tendency to move us to a deeper level.
- A massage or a bubble bath can do a world of good. Pamper yourself.
- Be sure to get plenty of rest. Lack of sleep heightens the feelings of stress and anxiety.
- Give yourself a break by turning off the noise. Quiet soothes the soul.
- If you are having difficulty accomplishing what needs to be done, a to-do list can be helpful. Checking off the items gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- Caring for plant life whether inside or in a garden is an exercise in mindfulness and adds beauty to our environment.
- Stress and anxiety can be reduced when priorities are adjusted. Discerning what is important and what can go by the wayside can be helpful.
We invite you to take a look at the suggestions we have offered in this series selecting the ones that hold the possibility of giving you a reprieve during challenging times. Commit to implementing them as a way to care for yourself.
Self-care is so important. When we are depleted, we have little to offer and find ourselves unfulfilled. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide you in finding rest for your troubled soul. Trust in the wisdom that assures us that this too will pass.
[Kathy Keary, a Precious Blood Companion and spiritual director, holds a master’s degree in theological studies and is a graduate of the Atchison Benedictine’s Sophia Center’s Souljourners Program, an intense study of spirituality and spiritual direction. Kathy believes that the divine is present and active in all of life and encourages others to be awakened to the God in all including the divine within. She enjoys accompanying others on their journey to wholeness discovering the person they were created to be.]
Image © by Roy Harryman from Pixabay
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