The Greatest Pandemic (perhaps)
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
The greatest pandemic we might be currently undergoing is one of anxiety.
AN EPIDEMIC is a disease that affects a large number of people within a community, population, or region.
A PANDEMIC is an epidemic that’s spread over multiple countries or continents.
And if you have studied the evolution of the word epidemic which for some reason I have had the time to do these days you will find that it has evolved from simply meaning 'on the people' of a certain country, to being used medically first by Hippocrates describing plague, then eventually, involving microbial and noninfectious diseases (ex. cancer) and finally in our day and age is used even to describe anything that negatively impacts the health or welfare of a large number of people in the population. Now, to return to my original statement "The greatest pandemic we might be currently undergoing is one of anxiety.", I believe it is clear to observe that somehow or someway anxiety has grown to become a world wide pandemic in and of itself.
What is anxiety, anyway?
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it can become very unhealthy. I have found in writings of the Holy Fathers throughout the early centuries of Christianity where it has been written that God did not create anything bad. I choose to believe this statement and so in using it to look into anxiety, we can deduce that a healthy amount of anxiety can help us avoid many dangers in life which is a good thing. And as with any good thing, the antithesis is quickly suggested by evil which in this case is an unhealthy amount of anxiety which can be paralyzing in the sense that even beyond real and present danger one imagines some calamity(ies) that may or may not occur and at this point fails to function.
Okay, captain obvious not touching the hot stove because you are afraid you might get burned is good and never eating again because you are afraid you might get burned while cooking is bad. But, if so obvious and so common sense then why is it estimated that 40 million people in the USA alone suffer from anxiety disorders? And, true to my self, I try to seek solutions not just see problems and so what are the possible solutions?
Medical News Today suggest the following for Self Treatment of anxiety:
Stress management: Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers. Organize any upcoming pressures and deadlines, compile lists to make daunting tasks more manageable, and commit to taking time off from study or work.
Relaxation techniques: Simple activities can help soothe the mental and physical signs of anxiety. These techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, long baths, resting in the dark
Exercises to replace negative thoughts with positive ones: Make a list of the negative thoughts that might be cycling as a result of anxiety, and write down another list next to it containing positive, believable thoughts to replace them. Creating a mental image of successfully facing and conquering a specific fear can also provide benefits if anxiety symptoms relate to a specific cause, such as in a phobia.
Support network: Talk with familiar people who are supportive, such as a family member or friend. Support group services may also be available in the local area and online.
Exercise: Physical exertion can improve self-image and release chemicals in the brain that trigger positive feelings
furthermore, they conclude:
An active lifestyle with a balanced diet can help keep anxious emotions within healthy limits.
Sticking with the scientific world for now...
Science News from research organizations
Hope is a key factor in recovering from anxiety disorders
Date:October 15, 2019
Source:University of Houston
Summary:A psychologist is reporting that hope increases in therapy and is a trait that predicts resilience and recovery from anxiety disorders, an important mechanism for therapists to restore in patients to move them forward toward recovery.
Medical doctors also tell us that loss of hope often hastens the arrival of death in patients. Emil Brunner wrote, “What oxygen is for the human lungs, such is hope for the meaning of human life…as the fate of the human is dependent on the supply of oxygen, so the fate of humanity is dependent on its supply of hope.” Without food man can survive for close to thirty days; without water he can survive only three days; without air he survive only three minutes; but without hope he might destroy himself in an even shorter time.
So, from the above science we can deduce that leading a life of hope coupled with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can help us attain the right balance of anxiety somewhere between a reckless nonsense and an ultra anxiety that paralyzes us.
In conclusion, life is full of struggle and there are certainly things that are going to cause us anxiety but we must learn to separate them into two categories, those that are in our control and that which is not. In response to what is in our control we must do all that we can in an effort to meet these challenges and when it comes to that which is not in our control, this is where hope or trust becomes the main factor. Hope or trust in what, some may ask? In the USA all you have to do is look to your currency for the answer...no, not trust in money as many in society by their actions would have us believe but rather the statement "In God We Trust".
Remember, there are no hopeless situations in life, only people who have grown hopeless about them. This virus is not breaking the world, it is only reconfirming the brokenness that already exists in the world. It is my hope and prayer that many more people find their own hope and prayer.
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."(John 16:33)
Below is a list of virtues and the passions that can result from misuse of the virtues. These lists are from writings found on the Holy Mountain Athos, which I have been Blessed with 6 pilgrimages to. These writings are compiled in the Philokalia by St Nikodimos and St Makarios, they are currently being translated into English by Palmer, Sherrard and Bishop Kallistos Ware. I believe they have published 5 out of 8 volumes in English. These lists are found in Volume III in writings by St Peter of Damaskos. I have highlighted lack of anxiety about all things but feel free to read the rest. I assure you this can be of great value to those of understanding.