How to Care for Your Mental Health during the Coronavirus
iBelieve Contributing Writer
The Coronavirus has disrupted everyone’s life in some form or another. Even at the best moments, there is an underlying stress which chips away at our sanity. Here are nine proactive ways to care for your mental health during these tough times.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)
While it may sound counterintuitive when dealing with physical isolation, the constant posts and updates about the Coronavirus actually increases anxiety, worry, fear, and depression. Set aside a timeframe for visiting social media and the news, then step away to focus on other things. The reality is our anxiousness will not change anything about our circumstances, but we do have a God who sees and controls all.
“When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” (Psalms 94:19 NASB)
There is a peace which surpasses all understanding and it can only be obtained by putting our focus on the One who gives it. If you don’t already, now is the time to start meditating on God’s word. Meditating is a purposefully slow, soul-stilling activity.
Take your time and read one psalm. Think about what it is saying about who God is, who you are to Him, and what His power is in the situations we face. Pray the psalm. Usually there is at least one verse in each that you can pray for yourself. Allow the truth of what you read to sink in and provide peace.
The Psalms are not the only source of peace and strength in God’s word. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is 2 Chronicles 20. Go read it slowly. The passage is filled with encouragement and the revelation of God’s magnificent power. Seek out stories of God’s provision. The God who met those needs is the same God who meets our needs.
If you need help finding verses and passages to meditate on, I suggest these:
The fact you are anxious and stressed does not come as a surprise to God. Take this time to lay every concern before God, then turn worries into praise. Begin by thanking God for every good thing in your life, whether it be that you have toilet paper or the sun is shining. Focus upward and outward.
Pray for others: the leaders making tough decisions, essential workers who daily put their health at risk to meet the needs of our community, children and parents who have lost their routines, people with compromised health. The list is endless.
Prayer is powerful for maintaining your mental health.
Journaling has long been documented by health professionals as having mental health benefits. Journaling allows you to clarify your thoughts and feelings. As you identify certain emotions, you can tackle and redirect them into a more positive direction. Stress is reduced through the release of intense emotions. You will feel calmer and able to address problems with more clarity. Journaling forces you to slow down and think conflicts, problems, or emotions through.
Here is a helpful resource from Allison Fallon, bestselling author and writing coach, to help you develop a daily writing habit.
5. Get Outside or Participate in Physical Activity
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“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen…” (Romans 1:20 NASB)
A change of scenery will help with the sensation of cabin fever. Go for a walk and take note of God’s creation. Praise Him for each thing you see. All of creation speaks to His existence and providence. Allow it to be a time which refreshes your spirit.
Going for a walk also provides a connection point with other people. Have conversations at a distance or offer a smile and wave to someone as they pass. It helps to be reminded there are other people outside of your four walls.
If circumstances require you to stay indoors, find some form of physical activity to help relieve the stress. Many exercise classes are being offered online for free at the moment.
The need for human contact is real. God designed us to be relational, with Him and with others. Take advantage of the fact we live in a technological age. Come together and support each other virtually. Don’t allow all your conversation to be dominated by Coronavirus but don’t ignore it either. This is a shared experience where we have the opportunity to dive deeper into relationships.
Pray together. Share encouraging verses. Chat about the challenges you are facing, the unexpected blessings, humorous moments, and share suggestions on how to fill your time. Just because you are practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you have to remain completely isolated.
Being in contact—virtually or physically—is a much needed coping strategy.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB)
Serving others provides an outlet for us to feel productive, helpful, and less overwhelmed. The Coronavirus provides an opportunity to serve others without leaving your home that will be more acceptable now than at other times. Scroll through your contact lists and reach out to ask how others are doing. See if they need anything you could provide. Challenge yourself to contact someone you haven’t talked to in months or years.
Do you have an elderly or high-risk person in your life? What about a health professional or other essential worker in you life? Has someone lost their job? See if they need you to pick up supplies, drop off a meal, or watch their children.
Are you financially able to order take-out or items from small businesses? Do it where you are able and leave a tip even though you didn’t eat in. These are financially distressing times for many.
For most, our normal routines have been shattered, but that doesn’t mean we should discard them completely. Routine helps with anxiety, the ability to fall asleep, and with a general sense of control. These are all important factors for maintaining your mental health.
If at all possible, stick to your normal times of waking up and going to sleep. Even though you are home and it is likely no one else will see you, take the time to shower and get dressed. It will help you to “feel alive” and to be more productive. Try to have regular mealtimes. They will curb the urge to eat all day long, and it’s good for creating a rhythm for your day.
These new routines will likely be disrupted at various points, but keep to them as much as possible.
9. Give Yourself Permission to Relax and Get Nothing Done
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You are in a unique period of time where all the “extra” stuff of life has been canceled. Make use of the time by not filling it with other things on your to-do list. Take a candle-lit bubble bath with soft music playing in the background. Read or listen to a book. Watch a TV series you’ve been meaning to catch. Play family games. Maybe even take up a new hobby or revisit one you’ve forgotten.
Maintaining your mental health during Coronavirus will require purposeful action, but remember these two very important things: God is still God and this too shall pass.
Crystal Caudill is a wife, caregiver, mom of teen boys, historical romance author, and prayer warrior. She isn't perfect but she strives to grow in God and encourage others in their faith journeys every day. Learn more about her and her writing at http://www.crystalcaudill.com.