3 Ways to Calm Anxiety and Sleep Problems During Quarantine

In the days that are coming, keeping busy, focused, and calm is going to be a huge challenge for Americans quarantined in their homes. I made the mistake of taking a wrong turn on YouTube last night and ended up listening to some very negative and hysterical panic and doomsday ranting. That was a big mistake. I turned it off the second I felt my chest tightening but the damage was done. Be careful, little ears, what you hear. 

The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. As Christians, we are called on to speak life into situations where darkness reigns. In order to do that we must fill our homes and our heads with positive, uplifting things. If the world is coming to a screeching end, worrying about it, crying about it, or recording panicked, screamy YouTube videos about it won’t change a single thing. Reading the negative press, listening to the people who criticize every move our leaders make will only depress you. And depression, right now, is dangerous.

I have three children to care for and shepherd through this as do many of you. They are counting on us to encourage them and assuage their fears. So I am making a promise to myself to avoid any more doomsayers out there, and if you are one of them creating that kind of content right now, ask yourself who you are helping? Because of that misstep, I was overcome with fear and sleep would not come as I laid there examining every worst-case scenario that could come from this pandemic that seems out of control right now. I went searching desperately for some good news so I turned to my favorite online priest with a soothing Canadian accent, Father Goring. I found this gem about how to avoid the first demon we will encounter during this time.

3. Keep busy, avoid idleness

Fr. Goring advises us to avoid idleness and laziness, first and foremost because “laziness is exhausting.” I know this from experience, he’s 100% accurate. And we cannot afford to exhaust our spirits right now. We need all available energy and motivation to continue. Listen to this short video.

Keeping busy is easy to do. Laundry always needs to be done, cleaning and sanitizing light switches and doorknobs, dishes, projects you’ve put off: there’s so much to do at home. Take this time to stay busy. When you tire yourself out by honest work, sleep comes easier.

2. Meditate on the Psalms

I am one of those people who has to have some kind of noise in order to sleep. Last night was really bad. Nothing was working. I saw something called “Abide” on YouTube that claimed to be Christian meditation. I know Christians disagree on meditation, but give this a shot. They have hundreds of YouTube videos that read the Psalms to you and pray for you to sleep. I put that on and I was asleep in about thirty minutes. That’s a longer time than usual but the way I felt last night I was afraid I’d never sleep again. The words of the Psalms washed over me and had an immediate effect that even though I was awake, my body started to relax. There is a video for every fear you might have.

If you don’t like guided meditation, then get out your Bible or Bible on audio and start reading or playing the Psalms out loud. Fill your house with these promises. Psalm 121 is a good place to start.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

1. Pray without ceasing

I have a great app on my phone called Laudate that has every Catholic prayer along with podcasts of the rosary, and other prayers of the church. While I’m doing housework, I will hook up the Bluetooth and play them. It’s much better to wash dishes while praying for God’s mercy on the whole earth than ruminating about things you cannot change. There must be apps out there for other denominations. Find some. There are prayer podcasts, YouTube channels, and group video chats where you can even set up a group to pray with friends.

Don’t sit in your worry, frozen with anxiety. Keep busy, meditate on the Word, and pray. Drop your favorite peace-giving apps or suggestions in the comments.

Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo,” and host of The Fringe podcast. Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter