The news seems to get more alarming every day. Violence, murder, and corruption are always in the headlines. Early yesterday morning journalists told us that a cyber attack hit 100,000 companies in 150 nations, a 19-year-old was killed in a hazing event at a prestigious university, atrocities continue in Syria, and North Korea launched another missile. Depressing, disturbing, fearful, even heartbreaking!
In a 2015 Huffington Press article, Dr. Graham Davey, a specialist in the psychological effects of media violence, said, “Violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder.” This includes TV shows that are supposed to be entertaining but are full of violence and crime. So watching TV or surfing the Internet to discover the latest Washington political scandal or the most recent terror threat can be dangerous to our health because of the fear and anxiety it generates.
And the fear producing news doesn’t end with violence. We are constantly bombarded with the latest negative health issues. Water bottles release BPA, an industrial chemical that can seep into our food and cause disease. Cell phones emit radio waves from their antennas that may cause cancer. Fruit juices are no longer a healthy morning drink; whole wheat bread is a no-no. And bananas, which are rich in potassium and magnesium, cause belly fat. Don’t even think about eating potato chips, crackers, or pastries. It’s no wonder that we have fear, stress and anxiety. Solomon was right when he said, “An anxious heart weighs a man (woman) down” (Proverbs 12:25).
Veteran science journalist Jeff Wise says, “It [fear] sabotages our ability to think clearly and can drive us to blind panic.” Jim Folk, another authority on fear and anxiety, says, “The body always produces an associated stress response to each fear, and one that is directly proportional to the level of fear. We don’t escape this reaction.” Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley, a medical physician and also a widow, says, “Anxiety is the number one medical health issue among adults.”
So what are we to do with this anxiety, fear, and stress? Should we simply refuse to watch the news or read negative information since all of this doom and gloom can be damaging to our physical, mental and emotional health? Dr. Tanksley gives several ways we can avoid the pain associated with fear, anxiety, and stress.
- Eat non-processed food, including lean protein, fruits, and vegetables.
- Drink lots of water.
- Participate in 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days.
- Get 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Have a medical exam if you haven’t done so recently.
- Choose your thought life. Reject thoughts full of bitterness, negativity, entitlement, powerlessness, and the past.
- Focus your thoughts on what is true, on gratitude, on what you can do, helping others, and on God.
- Face evil with calmness and authority, knowing that God is in complete control.
- Spend time in prayer; meditate on His Word.
- Focus on your God-given gifts and the mission He has given you.
- Don’t give up.
To her list, I would like to add –
- Listen to uplifting music.
- Build relationships with other widows.
- Make time for fun.
- Read a faith-building book.
- And, of course, don’t forget the chocolate!!!!
As widows we deal with tremendous loss, which in itself causes much stress. But as we ask God for His help, meditate on His Word, and build relationships with other widows, our stress, anxiety, and fear will be replaced with joy, gratefulness, and peace.
Scriptures to meditate on:
“He [the person who honors the Lord] will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord” (Psalm 112:7).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
“When anxiety was great within me, your [God’s] consolation brought joy to my soul” (Psalm 94:10).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).