Treasure Valley Prays

Lessening Anxiety in These Strange Times

cat on back by fireplace

“Do not give yourself over to sorrow, and do not distress yourself deliberately. A joyful heart is life itself, and rejoicing lengthen s one’s lifespan. Indulge yourself and take comfort, and remove sorrow far from you, for sorrow has destroyed many and no advantage ever comes from it. Jealously and anger shorten life, and anxiety brings on premature old age.”

Sirach 30:21-24 Sirach is one of the books in the Apocrypha.

Is anyone else out there a Facebook junkie? Is anyone else out there a news junkie and read newspapers on their smart phones, tablets, or computers?

Last fall I noticed something was happening that I needed to pay attention to. I was grumpier and crankier than usual. I was tense and anxious. I finally realized it was my morning routine that was putting me out of sorts. You see, every morning I was waking up and immediately picking up my phone to read the day’s news in the Washington Post. There were a few happy articles but most of them were just making me angry and anxious about what was going on in the world and in our country. So, I made a decision to stop it. I canceled my subscription and stopped starting my day with anxiety inducing news. I began to notice my attitude change. I stopped being so cranky and anxious.

But addictions are powerful and my addiction to news was no exception. It wasn’t long before I simply substituted one news source for another. Now I wake up and read the New York Times instead of the Washington Post. However, the New York Times comes in a format that makes it easier to choose how much of what news I get saturated with. My attitude has done better on this new news source.

Now add to that the addiction to Facebook. Besides the New York Times I read a lot of news articles on Facebook. Although I have become much more particular and cautious about which sources I read, I still find myself getting anxious and cranky when I read too much of it.

Don’t even get me started on television news shows that are mostly expert talking heads either agreeing with each other or yelling at each other. I watch enough to try and glean the day’s news but not enough to end up drinking the whole bottle of wine to try and chill out.

It has recently dawned on me that in the midst of all of this news overload (which, I readily admit, is self-inflicted) there are some great online avenues for joy, laughter, beauty, calm, and pleasure. I realized that I simply need to spend more of my online time perusing these avenues and less time in the aggravating lanes. After all, the wisdom of Sirach says that “anger shortens life and anxiety brings on premature old age”.

For the sake of space and time I’m only going to share which Facebook pages bring joy, laughter, beauty, calm and pleasure into my life. The first one is called “Clergy with Cats”. This page is simply pictures of cats that belong to clergy of all denominations and religions all over the world. Or, as some have said it should be called, “Cats with Clergy”. Coming in second is “The Far Side: A Tribute”. Far Side never fails to get me laughing out loud. “Calvin and Hobbes” brings simple smiles to my heart with its humor, warmth and love. “Non-Political Beyond the Far Side Group” offers up other side-splitting cartoons that often has me yelling “Larry, come here a minute. You need to see this!”. “Mornings With Coffee and Tea” has me laughing along with all of my coffee-addicted friends. Rounding out my humor avenue is “The Punitentiary”. Between the laughter and the groans from good puns and bad puns (is there a difference?), it is a great boost for my endorphins. To feed my spirituality and prayer needs I turn to “Celtic Christianity and Music”. The “Julian of Norwich” page helps with this aspect as well. Lastly, to enhance my sense of calm, beauty, joy and pleasure there is a relatively new page called “View From My Window”. People from all over the world simply post one picture from their front window, another window in their home, the front door or back door. You may only post once. I have deeply appreciated not only the stunning views of aqua blue waters yards from their homes, the snow-capped mountains, the forests, the yards filled with kangaroos or deer or moose, but also the views of ratty backyards as well. The ratty backyards are a dose of reality that we all don’t live in paradise. And it isn’t lost on me that really only the privileged are able to post on this page. People with the time to hang out of Facebook. People with homes. People with access to the internet. People who can afford a smart phone, or computer.

In these strange times of anxiety, fear, uncertainty, and no definitive date for a return to ‘normal’, how or where are you finding joy, beauty, laughter, calm, and pleasure? I would love to hear where others are going either online or offline. It may inspire me to seek out new avenues as well.

Picture of Barbara Condon

Barbara Condon

Independent Grief Specialist - Certified in Death and Grief Studies
Retired ELCA pastor

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