Genealogy Can Reduce Our Anxiety!

What a crazy couple of weeks! As of 9 p.m. last night, I am out of work – indefinitely. Not complaining about that. I wish all school systems would close. As of 2 p.m. today, my husband and I made the final decision to postpone our summer cruise to Europe. As of 5 p.m. today, the number of COVID-19 cases in CT has risen from 5 yesterday to 11 today. Anxiety-producing? You bet!

So, what’s my point? I noticed that since “the world has gone sideways” (my daughter’s phrasing) in light of the Coronavirus, I have had very little interest in getting any work done. I’m having a tough time staying focused. Signs of anxiety.

On the third day of RootsTech 2020, I attended Devin Ashby’s talk “The Science Of Family History.” I wrote a little about it in a previous post. Today, as part of the 24 Hour Genealogy Webinar Marathon (sponsored by Legacy Family Tree Webinars and My Heritage) I watched it again. The premise was that “connecting to our family story can help children and adults cope with the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.” The webinar was recorded and will be available free for a week. (It might not get posted for a few days, so keep checking the Family Tree Webinars site.)

I have been doing some work in the area of teaching resilience skills in connection with my Adult Education class, “Overcoming Obstacles and Barriers” so this topic is of interest to me. (I really wanted to call the class “Don’t Blame Me Because Your Life Sucks” but I didn’t think that would go over well with the State Department of Ed!)

The information Devin shared was more related to helping mitigate chronic stress and anxiety, not the situational agitation we are currently experiencing. However, I think it can’t hurt to consider some of the points I learned. Much of our anxiety may be centered around concerns for our loved ones. Perhaps delving into our family history and sharing some of our stories can assist us in feeling more connected to our family and less isolated on our “islands of worry.”

Devin spoke about the “oscillating family narrative.” Telling family stories about how our ancestors (or even ourselves) bounced back from adversity helps develop resilience. In my class, I share the concept of “permanence.” Those who see their troubles as permanent are less likely to be resilient (and therefore are more anxious and stressed) than those who understand that life comes in cycles. There are ups and there are downs – you just have persevere through and ride it out. It’s an important lesson for all of us to remember. And to share with our children. If you are interested in learning more about how sharing family stories builds resilience, read this article on the Family Search website: Building Resilience: 3 Science-Backed Ways to Find Healing.

Well – that’s my rant for today! I’m going to make a real effort to try and do something productive every day to avoid being 100% consumed with the current crisis. I certainly have plenty of projects in the pipeline! But, first things first – gotta go wash my hands.

Be well, everyone!!!

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