E-Messenger March 19, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the blessings of being the rector at St. Martin's is having such a vast number of experts in our midst to call upon.

Dr. Virginia Cooper is a wonderful member of our parish. She has written the article below that offers up some coping skills. Judging from this week's announcement from our governor's office that schools will be closed through April, physical distancing looks like it is here to stay for a bit longer, which also means occasional moments of increased anxiety are sure to occur for many of us in the days ahead. Please take some time to read Virginia's letter to us.

As always, if you have prayer requests or pastoral needs, please do not hesitate to reach out. 

In Christ,
Dear friends and fellow parishioners, 

In my professional life as a psychologist, I specialize in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. One of the first things I normally talk about with clients is increasing their understanding of anxiety. Anxiety is actually very adaptive; it exists to alert us to threats and helps us act quickly when there is danger. 

Fight or flight
I’m sure you’ve all heard of the "fight or flight" response. Basically, that’s the activation of your sympathetic nervous system in the face of perceived danger. Complementary to the sympathetic nervous system is the parasympathetic nervous system; this controls rest and relaxation.

Imagine that one of your arms, say your right, is the sympathetic nervous system, and your left arm is the parasympathetic nervous system. Most of us live a life in a culture that exercises the right side, but not so much the left, so we wind up with a Popeye right arm and a weakling left arm (anxiety disorders are rising). 

Anxiety can be . . .
  • Physical: racing heart, chest pain or discomfort, problems breathing, numbness or tingling in hands, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, muscle tension especially in neck, shoulders, or jaw, stomach/gut issues;
  • Cognitive: worrying all the time, catastrophizing, thinking “what if....” with mostly negative scenarios;
  • And emotional: feeling stressed or anxious emotionally, which can be expressed as irritability with others, tearfulness, jumpiness, problems sitting still, problems concentrating. 

I address anxiety on a physical level first through body calming. When someone is highly anxious, his or her body is literally prepping to fight or to run away (flight). The blood is going to major muscle groups to help you fight something or run away as fast as you can. It is not prepping to solve a mental problem or go to sleep.

If anxiety is not addressed physically first, then thoughts and feelings will line up to match the anxiety in your body. Your body is in fight or flight, and your mind and your feelings are going to be in line with fighting or running away. 

How to calm your body
We need to body calm and exercise the "rest and relaxation" response to combat daily stress and anxiety. This can be done mainly through deep abdominal breathing and guided relaxation/meditation.

If you’ve never done this before, the only wrong way to do it is not to do it. That is, it’s not going to be perfect. Your mind will wander (my mind can be be a motorized ping pong ball, bouncing all over the place). Don’t let that get you down. Just notice when it does and bring your attention back to the breath and how it feels coming in and out of your nose, in and out of your body.

There are some great apps to help (I love “ Simply Being” and “Insight Timer” most; others include “Calm,” and “Stop, Breathe & Think” ). You can also find others online using key word searches like "guided meditation," "deep abdominal breathing," "guided relaxation," and "mindfulness based stress reduction." 

Try this technique for body calming
  • Deep breathing down to my belly to a slow count of 4,
  • Holding the breath for a count of 2,
  • And then slowly exhaling for a count of 6.
The magic is most present in the exhale. A minimum of 20 minutes a day is recommended to really affect anxiety and stress. These 20 minutes can be broken up into two 10-minute periods or four 5-minute periods. To my knowledge, there’s no research saying all 20 minutes need to be done at the same time.

Again, the only wrong way to do it is not to do it. Some is better than none. Do a deep breathing or guided relaxation/meditation exercise anytime you feel panicky.

Ways to manage in the midst of a crisis
Here are other recommendations I like for managing anxiety particular to our current situation:
  • Do not engage in obsessive news checking. Establish a time as well as a time limit once or at most twice a day to read the news, watch TV about the virus, and check social media. Constant updates are a huge stressor.
  • Watch out that you separate the facts from your feelings when you get news.
  • Name and identify your feelings. Naming feelings helps us process and move through them. 
  • Get information from reputable sources.
  • Limit searching online for more information as your anxiety will spur you to latch onto a sensational story. 
  • Have a safety plan based on the recommendations of a trusted health organization (i.e., the CDC) that you follow about washing, cleaning, going out of the home, and being around others. 
  • Exercise daily. Your body is meant to move. Movement and exercise helps regulate mood and decrease stress. Any exercise is better than nothing. 
  • Occupy your mind. A mind with nothing to focus on will attach to whatever is anxiety provoking. You need to give your mind something else to chew on -- the more substantial, the better. Read books, study something you’ve wanted to learn but have put off, Sudokus, crosswords, home improvement projects that might require repeated trials to be successful, drawing, juggling, podcasts.
  • Have separate work and living space. It’s a boundary that is necessary to prevent you from working and/or feeling like you are working all the time. This is especially important now with so many of you trying telework. Working all the time can create stress and anxiety.
  • Leave work at the end of the work day.
  • Be social. Stay connected to others and maintain your relationships. We are asked to social distance, not social isolate. Isolation is detrimental to your mental health. Connect with others in real time through a phone call, FaceTime, or through Zoom or Google Meet. Send texts or emails.
  • Maintain a routine. Social distancing and staying at home present their own challenges, one of which is the loss of your daily routine. Routines help us feel secure by providing structure and predictability.
  • Get outside. I know the pollen brings its own issues, but it’s spring in South Carolina, and things are blooming and growing. Go check it out. Don’t linger all day in pajamas and the couch, as that initial comfort can be imprisoning over time. 
  • Pray. When anxiety persists after doing body calming and all the other suggestions above, it may be because of an inability to accept a difficult situation, intolerance of uncertainty, or both. This situation we find ourselves in is scary and surreal. I don’t like it. The news changes day to day, and I am uncertain what is coming next. The inability to accept a situation you cannot control doesn’t change the situation, it just makes you miserable. Accepting a situation does not mean you approve of it; it just means you aren’t fighting against the reality of it. Not tolerating an inherently uncertain situation and searching for certainty when it cannot be found, heightens anxiety and increases despair. Praying may be one way to become more accepting. You might try to pray for the ability to accept and tolerate uncertainty, to increase trust in God, and to hear God’s direction and guidance in this time. In my most stressful times, I ask God to show me the next right behavior, and I pray that simple prayer frequently throughout the day. 

Sunrise on Good Friday
One of my favorite ways to self calm combines deep breathing and prayer. I deep breathe like I described above, listen to the Taize song “Stay with Me” on repeat, and I pray. I pray for God’s will for me and in the world, and the willingness to accept and act on God’s direction. I first used it during Lent many years ago, walking the labyrinth at St. Martin’s before the sun rose on Good Friday. 

I love you and am praying for you, 
FRIDAY, March 27
Zoom into our Senior High breakfast Friday morning (March 27).

All 9th-12th graders are invited to join us for breakfast at home at 8:15 a.m. Pour a bowl of cereal or toast a bagel and join the online breakfast.

Click here:  https://zoom.us/j/9064524290  to log in via computer. The Zoom application will automatically start downloading even if you have previously used Zoom. You will need to install it to join the call.

Questions? Contact Courtney Baker at  courtney.baker@smifsc.com
SUNDAY, March 29
Join us for church this Sunday via Facebook Live
Join our Facebook Live service at 10 a.m . this Sunday (March 29) . Plan to add your prayer requests and share the service with others.

Click HERE for the readings.
Click HERE for the Book of Common Prayer.
Be on the lookout each Sunday and Wednesday via our YouTube Channel for some special stories we will be sharing (click on Children & Youth window):
  • Each Sunday by 7 p.m., we will be posting a "tucked-in-at-bedtime" story.
  • Each Wednesday by 10 a.m., we will be sharing a "Faces of Easter" story. 
Other programming options for your children:
  • Click HERE for wonderful faith at home resources.
  • Click HERE for free programming being provided by SCETV.
  • Click HERE for happenings at Riverbanks Zoo.
On Saturday, Courtney Baker will announce the Youth Scavenger Hunt winners on all youth platforms -- Facebook, GroupMe and Instagram. To be eligible to win, all submissions are due back to Courtney via email by Friday.

We will have one middle school winner and o ne high school winner picked at random. Prizes will be gift cards to ChikFil-A and Starbucks.

That's one
very cool deacon!
We now have a deacon among us. The Rev. Deacon Caitlyn Darnell was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons on March 19. Not even a global pandemic prevented the holy moment. Her service took place at St. Martin's with the bishop and our clergy and Caitlyn's immediate family while livestreaming via Facebook. We now have pictures of the service in our photo gallery on our website. Click HERE to see them, and give parishioner Scotty Peek a virtual shout out for taking them.
Did you catch Mitch's
"My Corona Minute" with parishioner Sally Peek about how we can support small businesses during this crazy time? Check it out on the Health and Community tab on our YouTube Channel.
Stay tuned for details about how we will observe Holy Week.
We have plans in the making that we are sure
will enrich your observance.
Here's how to follow services on Facebook:

If you want to watch on your phone, and have the Facebook app, go to the church's Facebook page at 10 a.m. and navigate to the video section.

If you are watching on your personal computer, click HERE to go to the church's Facebook video feed.
The link to the St. Martin's YouTube Channel is now easily accessible on the homepage of our website (see circled space on photo to left).

Or click HERE and catch up on the great videos that have been posted thus far.

If you've missed something, no worries. It will be here waiting for you.
March 29
William Keith Rogers

March 30
John Hodges

March 31
Georgeann Thompson
Nancy Waite
April 1
Doug Franklin

April 3
Tim Carrier

April 4
Bill Case
Derek Edwards
Follow St. Martin's on  Facebook   (St. Martin's-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church) throughout the week for parish news!  LIKE  the page for us, and  SHARE  posts with friends and family! This Sunday's service will be LIVESTREAMED .
Follow St. Martin's on Instagram at @smifsc, where we post:
  • The 3-Word Gospel on Tuesdays
  • Compline from Home each evening, Monday through Friday
Encourage friends and family to follow us, too!
Thank you for your gifts . . .
To make your pledge via online giving , click HERE.

To make a financial gift to St. Martin's online , click HERE .

To make your Capital Campaign pledge online , click HERE .

To make a gift to the Capital Campaign , click HERE .
If you have been visiting with us and are now interested in membership, please  fill out the Welcome/Prayer Request card available in each pew and place it in the offering plate so we can be in touch with you about next steps.
We have TWO easy ways to get a church directory: one is an app for your phone and the other is by creating an account on our website (go to login button on homepage and follow prompts). 

Log in info: 
Site # 90036 
Username and password are same as your church website log in. You will only have to input this info once. If you haven't created a login, follow the steps with the Member Login button on the homepage of the church

If you have created a login, but don't remember your password: Contact   robyn.holt@stmartinsinthefields.com .

Here's how to get the app, depending on the type of phone you have (iphone or Android):
5220 Clemson Avenue
Columbia, SC 29206
803.787.0392 | www.stmartinsinthefields.com