Rev. Jim Flagg, First Methodist Humble

I had to laugh a couple of weeks ago when the big push of “Back-to-School” commercials hit the airwaves. Adorable kids dressed to the nines in outfits that we here in the Gulf Coast can’t consider for fear of heat stroke until November. The commercials, for the most part, seemed to totally disregard that most children won’t be heading off to class for another few weeks. For many of our cyber-schooled children it will seem that the “dog days of summer” had a litter of puppies and it will continue as it was for a while yet.

I remember school shopping and the excitement of school starting (OK, I was a bit nerdy). I really did like learning, but most of all I enjoyed being with my friends. I even knew teachers who anxiously anticipated getting back to their classrooms. I really feel for our students, teachers and parents! In the politicizing of this viral outbreak we have placed parents, teachers and students in the worst kind of situation. Fear and anger are making for some very stressed individuals and a horrible learning environment (whether at home or in person).

So, what can we do? First, take a deep breath (maybe several) and calm down. Humanity has seen more than one of these in the past with far fewer resources and yet we are here. At this point, I have known many people who have had this virus and recovered. Those who did not recover had other medical issues. The morbidity rate is far less than the original reports and our doctors and hospitals have found better treatments for those who do have severe cases. So, while we MUST take this virus seriously, a little precaution goes a long way. For me, when I find myself getting stressed, I pray. For some of you reading this that may not be your answer, so try meditating (by the way, there is Christian meditation, too). Then get up and, if possible, get outside even for a few minutes. The mere action of moving is helpful, and the daylight helps (even if not in direct sunlight). I have challenged my folks to find something that brings them joy every day and take a picture of it.

At the end of the week, find the thing that brought you the most joy and share it. Just remembering those joyful moments decreases stress and increases joy. Finally, check on someone else. Even if you are homebound, pick up the phone and call someone else. When we think about others instead of ourselves, again stress levels go down (so do our pain levels).

Get into a routine and not a funk. Don’t stay in your bedclothes all day. Working from home, schooling from home … get dressed up even if you have no place to go. This will only be this way for a season of life. Keep living!

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