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Believe and fear not in 2022

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published Jan 04, 2022 5:00 am

Many friends and readers reacted to my last article. Maybe because many of us went through the same difficulties and most have arrived at the same conclusion: we have nothing to fear.

One of those who shared his thoughts was Michael del Rosario of the V Hotel, Veniz Hotels and McDonald’s in Baguio. He sent me photos of their huge banners meant to rally and inspire the community.

These are the inspiring messages: “Be Safe. Be Prudent. Be Not Afraid. Faith Conquers Fear. With God, We Shall Overcome. Pray!” and “With God We Shall Overcome. Fear Not. Faith Conquers Fear. Hope Springs From Faith. Pray, Pray, Pray.”

You might argue that you are not religious, but I can see no other way. Both faith and fear are reactions to what you do not know, what you cannot predict nor understand and what you cannot see.

As I mentioned in my previous article, when you are experiencing a great threat, you choose between facing it courageously with faith or succumbing to it with fear.

Bible experts say that “fear not” and “be not afraid” or similar messages are one of the most repeated words in the Holy Book.

Among the most repeated words in the Bible are “fear not” and “be not afraid.”

Some writers claim there are 365 such passages though some say only less than half of that number exists. Regardless, we can safely say that through generations the absence of faith in the presence of fear has been a constant biblical topic.

“Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith also makes serviceable,” said Harry Emerson Fosdick, an American pastor in the early 1900s who was regarded by Martin Luther King Jr. as “the greatest preacher of the century.”

We are entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the medical community understands it more, while the government and most businesses/ industries have learned to cope. Many are scarred and beaten, but many remain hopeful with expectant faith. It is normal to feel scared and anxious, but we cannot let those linger.

Stress eating is not a myth

Did the stress and anxiety of dealing with the pandemic make us fat?

Stress eating is not a myth. Our body releases the hormone cortisol when we are anxious or tense. We also tend to crave “comfort” foods high in sugar or fat. Cortisol also stimulates the appetite and causes the belly fat common in highly stressed individuals.

Before the pandemic, researchers in Stanford University studied the effects of glucocorticoids (steroid hormone produced in the adrenal gland such as cortisol) in the development of fat cells. They found out that when kept at constantly high levels (constant stress), the glucocorticoids increased the fat cells even without eating more food.

Stress, anxiety and fear can make us sick. Do you feel it? You get headaches, stomachache, muscle tension, rapid breathing, profuse sweating, fast heartbeat, dizziness, change in appetite, frequent urination, shaking, trouble sleeping, diarrhea and fatigue.

It is normal to feel anxious, but we cannot let our fear and anxiety linger.

Constant stress and anxiety over a long period (such as the whole of 2020 and 2021) may lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Mental health is wealth

Mental health issues also significantly increased during the last two years. Anxiety and depression spiked, as well as suicides. Anxiety and stress also disrupts the quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation has serious effects on immunity as well as increased cortisol production that may result in belly fat.

Not getting enough sleep can affect your mood, memory and health.

Lack of sleep makes you hungry and prone to binge on high fat and high sugar treats. The increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin is caused by sleep deprivation as well as a decrease in leptin, which is the hormone connected to the feeling of fullness.

It’s a vicious cycle, really. You worry too much. You don’t get to sleep enough, you stress eat. You gain weight especially in the abdominal area. You feel the physical symptoms of the constant worrying. But then you worry more. The negative cycle repeats.

It’s time to put an end to fear. Pray. Hope. Believe. Plant the seed to a life that will make you whole — physically, emotionally and spiritually.