Dear 100 Hour Board,
I'm living in the coronavirus epicenter of the US and things are starting to get scary. I am having a lot of anxiety especially since I work in healthcare and can potentially be exposed. Do you have any ideas for uplifting books to read? Calming poetry to memorize? Anything else to calm myself down? I have never dealt with anxiety before and it's challenging because as far as I can tell, my worries are 100% legitimate.
I was texting a friend this week, and he sent over this quote by C.S. Lewis to me:
"Son,'he said,' ye cannot in your present state understand eternity...That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why...the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly."
This quote has brought a lot of peace to me, because with everything that's been happening, I've been searching desperately for heaven.
Anathema's answer made me think of this great speech given last year by Tad R Callister on the purpose of suffering.
For me, one of my favorite places to buy books is Thrift Books, just because it's so cheap and usually delivers in about a week, which is great. As for poems, Elizabeth Bishop (particularly this book) has been a favorite as of late. Also, this website has some pretty nicely read Whitman poems (though they aren't super Whitman-esque). Of course, I am also going to recommend Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, and Calvin and Hobbes, just as nice books to read leisurely.
Best of luck,
Dear Me Too,
I was really anxious around the time that church was cancelled and the temples were closing. That's when things got real to me. I read this talk from President Nelson and I got a lot of peace from it. Hopefully you will too.
My Mom sent me this email from her stake president that happens to be a mental health counselor:
"We love you and recognize this can be a time of difficulty, but also know there is power in Christ and His Gospel, and sufficient resources in our community to respond to needs and concerns. We know this can be a time of increased stress and concern, and so I wanted to offer a few suggestions on managing your emotional state through the pandemic. While much is what you have likely heard from other sources, I wanted to offer a few suggestions that could be helpful. Obviously, there are many other ideas and responses that can help as well.
Managing Anxiety, Worry and Stress through the Pandemic
1. Recognize that your emotions are normal and okay. Responses to difficulty vary significantly across individuals, with some feeling more peaceful and others feeling significant worry and the whole range in between. Whatever you are feeling is a normal response and you don’t need to feel worried further about whether your emotions are “right”. For those feeling more stressed and anxious, most people find that actively trying to change those emotions (e.g. telling yourselves to stop feeling tense and calm down) to not work and to actually increase stress. Emotions are a response to your thoughts and brain processes, and they are most likely to change through other suggestions below rather than trying to actively change them.
2. Manage news consumption carefully – research on previous disasters and crises suggest that one of the best predictors of individuals having a traumatic experience is the amount of news coverage they consume (watching, listening, and reading). Yes, you want to stay informed, but that can be accomplished through a single, planned check per day rather than extensive watching/reading.
3. Purposely seek encouragement and positivity – In addition to news coverage, it is helpful and wise to purposely seek stories and information that uplifts and encourages. Daily scripture study is more important than ever. In addition, listening/watching previous conference talks, visiting churchofjesuschrist.org, making sure you receive the regular updates by email from the church, and turning to other positive sources can give a real boost to your overall morale and spiritual/emotional stability.
4. Seek routine and schedules – our human brains desperately want predictability. One of the biggest negative impacts from a pandemic or other disaster is the lack of ability to predict exactly what will come next. Our brains don’t like it and try to tell us that something is terribly wrong. In response, one of the best things we can do is to increase the predictability in our lives by following routines and schedules. By starting each day (or ending the previous) by making a plan for how our day will go can be very reassuring and the same is true for our children. As we can create new routines, and maintain previous ones, we help calm and assure our brains that things are okay.
5. Fill our time with meaning and connection. In addition to our desire for predictability, we are social beings and our souls crave meaning – engaging in behaviors that we believe have purpose and lead to long-term benefits for ourselves and others. Many of us have had our schedules disrupted. Some find themselves busier and others less busy as a result. Let’s plan carefully what we engage in. Find ways to connect through technology with others and also to engage in activities that you believe bring meaning and purpose in your lives. Find ways to serve others in addition to managing your own well-being. This gives us a boost and increases calm.
6. Be active and see the sun. Exercise and activity are some of the most universal and effective mental health treatments. In addition, the sun brings both physical and mental well-being. Though we want to be careful with social distancing, going outdoors to engage in activity and exercise regularly is a wonderful way to help manage our stress and keep us engaged in meaningful activity."
Hope this helps!
I made a post this morning on my private Instagram account that mirrors a lot of the language you used in this question.
Here’s a video by John Green sharing some tips that I think are very useful.
And here’s a video by his brother, Hank Green, who put into words a lot of what I’ve been feeling lately. Having language to describe what’s happening and how I’m feeling has proven to be a very useful tool for me when I need to stabilize my emotions, especially anxiety.
This is a scary thing, but these videos have been helpful to me. Hopefully they’ll do you some good, too. Sending love and good vibes.
I have recently started listening to a podcast called Poetry Unbound, where the host reads and discusses a single poem. It's described as "short and unhurried; contemplative and energizing." I have found it very soothing and I would definitely recommend it.