Easter this year is going to be different.
That’s super obvious: with everything happening in the COVID-19 situation it’s a guarantee that nothing will be the same as it has been in the past.
For an anxious personality, this is terrifying. So far I’ve been able to cope really well with all the changes made: I’m happy to be working from home and able to keep my job, my family is all healthy right now, and thanks to technology I still get to see their faces without being in the same place they are.
Easter is making it feel more real.
Easter is a huge holiday for my family: I come from a very religious family, and Easter and the days leading up to it are extremely important for us. It was definitely fitting that all of these social and lifestyle changes were being made during the season of Lent, because we were already making voluntary changes to our lives (i.e., working out more regularly, adding to our prayer life, giving up sweets or alcohol, etc.), so adding these involuntary changes was difficult but appropriate for the season.
But all of these things are supposed to end joyfully at Easter.
COVID-19 is not ending at Easter.
The involuntary lifestyle changes are going to continue, and they’re going to keep getting stricter, and they are taking away the traditional celebration of Easter.
Luckily a lot of churches are doing online broadcasting of their services, so we will still be able to celebrate with that community, but there will be no family get-together, no baptisms, no personal celebration.
After all of this has passed, we will still be in the depths of the Coronavirus.
It’s suddenly becoming so much more difficult for me to rejoice at the Easter season. It doesn’t feel real. On top of it, my anxiety is skyrocketing because there is no end date in sight.
It’s a good challenge for all of us to keep finding ways to stay safe and happy, and allow these anxieties to pass. One thing that this season has taught me more than ever is that there are some things we have absolutely no control over, but we have to control the things that we can. We have to find ways to band together and cope with our anxieties, sorrow, and joy, even though things are different.
I’ve been able to get into the habits of daily journaling, exercise, and prayer. I do all three at the end of my day to clear my head. I start with yoga to release all the tension in my body, especially the tension I’m not aware of. The great thing about yoga is how specifically you have to focus on your muscle movement, on your breathing, and any tension in your body is absolutely intentional. Even if I’m not very flexible or doing the moves right, I have to focus so hard on it that my mind clears, even if it’s only temporary.
After getting rid of the tension in my body, I go to prayer and meditation. I have an app that guides me through both, allowing me to clear my mind of spastic, anxiety-ridden roller-coaster, tumultuous thoughts and helping me to focus on very specific topics and trains of thought. It helps me to go through my day and find the high and low points, identify things I’m grateful for, and also pinpoint things I want to change or improve.
Finally I end my day by journaling. After I’ve been intentional with my body and mind I’m able to write about the things bothering me most: my hopes, heartbreaks, dreams, failures, and victories. I can use journaling as an outlet for specific moments of the day I need to work through, as a sounding board for ideas, or just for the final ramble of my anxiety-buzzed mind.
After a month of doing all of this, I’ve found that if I skip it for any reason I actually lose sleep at night, setting me up for failure the next day. I’m going to keep practicing all of this as we head into what’s becoming our new normal, and have faith that we will all get through this together.