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Coping during stressful times
Judi Tabler color mug

During times like this past year some of you have felt like your lives are going off the rails. It’s a common emotion. There are many who are enduring not only the hardship of this COVID-19 crisis, but also personal crises in their lives. It causes depression and despair, dullness, and numbness. 

How can we steer our lives back on the track? That is the question. Or, how can we slow down this out-of-control engine (the mind) chugging faster and faster down the hill, and turn it around? 

I have a few suggestions other than getting more rest, eating an entire pie, pigging out on television documentaries, and reading lots of books! First and most important is to pray; communicate with God, and ask Him for help. Communicate specifically and honestly. Prayer is extremely important, and knowing that there is a loving God who cares and is watching over us is healing and encouraging. Tell Him how it is. You will begin to feel the change as you become more aware of His presence. 

Philippians 4:8 gives great advice. I need this as much as you when I get on a negative side rail. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

It takes a concentrated effort to eliminate the negative and focus on the positive. New hope seeps down into the cracks of our mind. We cannot afford to dwell on “what ifs” or “if onlys.” And there’s no point in beating ourselves to a pulp, anyway.

Avoid the negative news on television, and don’t watch movies, or listen to music that drag you down. In fact, avoid people who are constantly negative and abusive. Let your eyes and ears be doors that let in light, not darkness. 

Next, imagine yourself driving down the highway. The windshield in front of us, large, and clear, and visible this window, is our future. Then consider the rearview mirror. It is small, reflective, and its purpose is to occasionally look back. The rearview is our past. 

We all should commit to spending more of our time living in the now and looking ahead, down the road. We should look back only once in a while, and then, only peek now and then. What’s over is over.

Remember the good times, and don’t let your mind to gravitate to self-pity. Remind yourself constantly to keep looking ahead, even if for one day at a time.  

I’m taping the above scripture on a piece of paper on my bathroom mirror. You might consider this little exercise. Every day read it. You won’t believe how it changes the attitude and brings back hope and joy. And this scripture has much more to say. Read Philippians 4:1-9. It’s very good. 

And my last nugget of help is this. Cultivate a sense of humor. Read funny stories. Laugh. See the humor in life. Rejoice. 

Let me know how it’s going. 

Judi Tabler lives in Pawnee County and is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune. She can be reached at