Cultivating Calm in the Midst of Crisis

The world turned upside down overnight. Confidence was replaced with anxiety and calm was overtaken by fear. I witnessed it in the grocery store as shelves were emptied and saw it in people's eyes walking by. I heard it in a Momma's voice as she wondered if her child had COVID but was unable to get testing due to not meeting the required criteria. 

It's been months since COVID came to our shores and yet the fear still lingers.

I live in a state made up of small businesses with one of the oldest populations in the country. COVID has left it's mark here drastically. Many Mom and Pop businesses are closing after being the hearts of their communities for decades. People are afraid for their jobs, for their health, and for our economy. Much of our state still remains closed. My son doesn't know when his workplace will reopen, and the dentist cancelled for a second time to push our appointments out till the end of summer stating it may change again depending on the coronavirus. There is talk of not opening the public schools back up next fall and switching to online learning. We don't know what the new normal will be and sitting in this state of unknown breeds anxiety.

In the midst of all of the hullabaloo, I cannot give myself over to fear and panic. I have six people who call me "Mom" who are looking for guidance and stability in an ever changing world. Here is how I stay calm in the midst of COVID or other times of crisis.

1. Focus on the JOY.
It is so easy to be swallowed up by all that is not going right with the world that we can lose sight of what is still lovely. In our home, we write in our thankfulness journal in order to keep "that which is good", in the forefront of our minds. It delights me to see the joy my children receive from the simple things. Homemade cookies, the chirping of birds, flowers blooming in the garden, laughter shared around a campfire, a zoom meeting with friends... these are all things we have been thankful for recently.
2.  Limit  media.
We can quickly become overwhelmed with the amount of information coming at us.  We need to be wise about our media intake. I have set times when I  look at the news  to update myself with what is going on in the world. I take note of the most recent suggestions by the governor, check in on a few areas of interest or concern, and then turn it off. 

 I think it is common in a crisis to want to stay up to date on what is going on but we have information coming at us 24/7 and it is easy to be consumed by it. Not to mention, we have to filter what is trustworthy and accurate.  We were not designed to process so much information all the time. By stepping back and limiting the amount of news (this includes social media) and possible stress in life, it fosters peace.

3. Be the LOVE.
Small gestures go a long way to spread love and confidence. It could be a kind word or a simple deed (baking something for a neighbor, a bouquet of flowers for a friend, a thank you card for an essential worker, a larger tip for the server bringing you take-out, etc.). This is a time when, more than ever, we need to practice more forgiveness and grace. Assume the best of others, notice the good in those around you, and be compassionate to your fellow man as well as to yourself. Kindness eases anxiety.

4. SMILE! 
Don't underestimate the power of a simple smile. It is a universal language understood by everyone around the world. Smiling sends a message of hope and joy without needing to say anything at all, plus, it is contagious. Smiling reduces stress hormones and makes us feel better, thus effecting our emotions and our overall health. 

I know many of us are wearing masks these days while out in public and it is hard to tell facial expressions. However, our eyes often smile when we do. By continuing to beam in the midst of adversity, I cultivate calm in my spirit and hopefully in others.

5. Process.
It is only natural for fears and anxieties to rise up when life is shaken. It is important to take time to process our  emotions.  Talking about what is making me afraid allows me to get it all out in the open. Whether I call a friend, chat with my husband before bed, meet up on zoom with a loved one, or listen to my kids process their fears around the dining room table, we need to have these conversations. At times when verbalizing my thoughts are difficult I find that drawing or writing out feelings can also be very healing.  

By getting our fear out into the light we can see it for what it is and then deal with it. It helps us see what is in our control and what is not.  Those things that are not in our control get surrendered. I do what I can with what I have (my time, energy, and resources) and then beyond that, I need to lay the rest down. 

6. Practice self care.
Self care is important to practice in our day to day lives and becomes even more so in times of crisis. 

For me, I am my best self when I am a good steward of my physical body by sustaining it with rejuvenating sleep, mindful eating, and daily movement. To nurture my inner self  I take time to recharge, manage my stress, maintain healthy boundaries,  cultivate joy, and have time alone with God.  These things all together help me thrive even under harsh conditions.

Take some time to think about what you need for your own self care and then begin to take steps to making those needs a priority. It is not selfish, it is important for your health and the health of those around you that you take care of you. 

7. Connect with Others
We were not meant to go through life alone. During this time of isolation it is important to stay connected with others. Talking on the phone, messaging on social media, a Zoom or other online meeting, or visiting with a friend at a distance you are comfortable with are all ways we can stay in fellowship with those around us. It is such a boost to my spirit to be able to maintain connection with those I hold dear. 

8. Breathe.
When emotions start rising and you feel out of control, focus on breathing. The four count breath is used in high stress situations in the military, for relaxation with yoga instructors, and has been of great benefit in my life when I just need to slow everything down. It is a very simple practice that has a big impact and it can be taught to others (it's an excellent resource for children) to help ease anxiety, fear, and anger. 

So those are my go-to's that help me do hard things and get through difficult times. 

What do you do to help cultivate calm during the stormy seasons of life and/or during COVID? I would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below.

 Grace and peace to you,


  1. Dearest Dawna,
    As usual you are helping others in their daily struggles with your transparency and strength. May the Lord continue to motivate and inspire you as you follow His leading.
    Your friend, Jeanne

    1. What a joy to hear from you Jeanne! Thank you for your encouraging words and continuing to read this blog over the years. I am so grateful for your steadfast friendship.


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