Chaotic. Unprecedented. A very weird time. Dumpster fire. These are various ways I have described the year 2020. From the time the pandemic interrupted an otherwise normal year, to the overwhelming public outcry and protests following the murder of George Floyd, to an unusually tense and anxious election season, we are living in a truly challenging time. I know there have been other moments in history that have been just as fraught
(and more), but with 24/7 news coverage and social media it feels like we are stressed to a breaking point.
So, what can we do?
First, pay attention to the way you talk to yourself.
When I’m stressed, I am more self-critical, and that inner voice can be pretty mean. In fact, if others talked to me the way I talk to myself, I would be furious. Just noticing that I’m being selfcritical helps me to stop and reframe my thinking.
Meditation has become really important to me. Just a little time in the morning before I start the day, being still and focusing on my breath helps me feel grounded. I can find quiet through the day to stay grounded.
Third, focus on gratitude.
There is so much joy all around, and it’s easy to miss when we’re wrapped up in miserable. The way the sunlight touches the trees, the birds in flight, the small gestures of kindness from strangers and friends — all of these can make us feel happier if we notice them.
And finally, practice compassion.
For yourself (you don’t have to be perfect) and for others. We can’t tell by looking what kind of battles people are facing. Be kind and compassionate as a default when you are walking around in the world.
None of these things will clear up a pandemic (please wear your mask and wash your hands), or end racism, or change a broken political system. But they can help us get through this (ahem) very weird time.
I invite you to follow the Otterbein Religious and Spiritual Life Instagram page @Otterbein_Spiritual_Life for reminders to pause for prayer and pause for peace.
Rev. Judy Guion-Utsler is the University chaplain and has a master of divinity degree from Boston University and doctorate degree from The Ohio State University. She focuses on social justice, anti-racism, and changing the world.