There’s a lot going on right now. Between the Pandemic, political chaos, and rapidly-changing economic realities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Added to this is the unspoken sense many people have that things will likely get worse before they get better. At such times hope can seem out-of-reach and anxiety can spiral out-of-control.
One of the most frustrating aspects of all this is the feeling that as an individual there’s little you can do to change anything. The good news is that this is actually not the case. There are a number of action steps you can take to fight the feeling of helplessness that many are experiencing.
The first step is the realization that many things are out of your personal control. While you may think this is bad news, the fact is, accepting this reality can be like dropping a huge burden you’ve been carrying for a long time. Turning your focus and attention to the things you can control will give you a fresh sense of purpose, meaning, and power.
So what are some of the things you can control? What are some action steps you can begin to take right now to help you overcome despair? Here are a few to consider:
1. Quiet the Voices: One of the worst things we can do is watch or listen to news broadcasts. News sources, no matter the political leanings they represent, thrive on outrage. Few headlines read, “Things are going well for …” Instead, they try to grab your attention by highlighting sensational stories. Many of the stories are accurate. And yet, one can remain informed without the hype. Rather than watching or listening to news, choose a good source and read the news instead. As you do so, train yourself to recognize and avoid hype. Focus on facts and trends. After a while you’ll cultivate the ability to discern between “clickbait” headlines and reports that matter.
2. Gain Perspective: If your hope is based on the wisdom of people, you will be disappointed. Whether it’s now or later, you’ll at some point come to the realization that human nature is sinful, and that most people act in their own self-interest. This doesn’t mean that one has to give up. Rather, it means that one should place what’s happening in the world in context. Focus on the larger questions like who am I, what am I here for, and where am I going? For me and many others, the answers to these questions can be found in the Bible. Try reading the New Testament if you’ve never done so, or if you’ve not read it in a while. What you’ll find on just about every page will help you realize why humans act as we do, and how our hope should be placed in Christ and what he’s promised. After all, he’s the only leader in world history that backed up his words by raising from the dead. That’s a pretty good indication for me that Jesus can be trusted.
3. Invest in Family and Friends: Even though we are busy as a general rule, most people have a good deal of down time. It may not seem like it, but keep track over the next ten days of how much time you’ve spend watching television, surfing the Internet, clicking on social media, or playing video games. If you’re like most people today, you’ll be shocked at the total hours. We’re not suggesting you give these up. What we are saying is that carving out some hours here and there to spend interacting with the people you love can make a huge difference in your outlook. It’s doubtful that on your eventual deathbed you’ll wish you spent more time online. On the other hand, it’s common for people at the end of their days to wish they spent more time with their family and friends. You can beat this trend by slowing down and making time for those you love.
4. Make Health a Hobby: This is an area in which I have struggled for years. I have no right suggesting this, yet I am trying to take my own advice on this one. It’s interesting to come to the realization that although I can’t add an inch to my height, I can make choices that change other aspects of my physical condition. This includes spending at least an hour walking outside each morning. Choices we make in this realm can have a huge impact on our quality of life and outlook. They can also help us to prepare for difficult times should they come.
5. Improve Your Hard Skills: There’s little question that knowing how to defend oneself has always been important. As social norms and restraints continue to deteriorate, we recommend that you look into the best ways to protect your family in the event of hostility resulting from further political or economic chaos. Owning and knowing how to safely handle a firearm is highly recommended. While for some even the thought of this might cause anxiety, the reality is that a firearm is nothing more than a tool. Gaining knowledge about this tool, and training how to safely and effectively use it, can give you the ability to fend off attacks that would otherwise result in you or someone you love becoming just another victim.
6. Consider Training in Soft Skills: There’s a great deal that can be done, even in very challenging times, to avoid becoming the victim of an attack and needing to use a firearm to defend yourself or someone you love. We’ve developed a course covering the soft skills that have helped many, including ourselves, serve in some of the most challenging places on earth while avoiding confrontation. We suggest that taking a nine-hour Soft Skills course that costs less than a dinner out for a family represents a wise decision.
The six items listed above represent a few action steps you can take to help overcome the despair and anxiety that have overwhelmed so many in these trying times. Yes, many things are out of our personal control, yet many others involve choices we can make right now. Counseling is also a great option. Trained professionals have helped many through some very rough times.
Please consider visiting Panoplia.org on a regular basis. Aside from the one Course we offer, there’s no other costs involved. It’s our goal to build a community of those who have real hope, and who will encourage one another in practical ways whether the world around us is bright and beautiful or dark and foreboding. No matter what the case may be, know that you are valued here, and that together we can make a difference in this world.