Life feels different.
Virtually every aspect of community life has shut down in an effort to prevent the rapid spreading of a novel coronavirus. We’re stuck indoors, in small groups, for an unknown amount of time.
The primary concern, of course, is people’s physical health from COVID-19. Yet, with the government and community measures attempting to prevent the spread of the disease, we know that mental health concerns are signifiant during this crisis.
How do we handle the anxiety of uncertainty? The fear of this virus? How do we manage the loneliness that can come with social distancing, or the family conflict that might arise after days or weeks of isolation?
Many articles have been written to address these questions. As a Christian counseling agency, we want to humbly submit a few ideas as well. Read on for 19 tips for dealing with COVID-19.
- Limit your exposure to the news and social media. Yes, new headlines pop up constantly. But your day-to-day life won’t change every hour. These headlines only deepen anxiety.
- Enjoy some relaxing at-home activities. Take a walk. Run a hot bath. Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee. Try out a new recipe. However you relax, take time for this.
- Use relaxation techniques. When anxiety spikes, breathe deeply and purposefully think about more positive, true things. Stretch your muscles. Practice a mindfulness exercise to stay grounded in the present moment.
- Exercise. Even without going to the gym, you can do pushups, go for a run, and do jumping jacks. Getting your heart rate up releases endorphins that help manage anxiety.
- Do what you can realistically do, and then give it to God. If you’re worried about your paycheck, cut back on what you’re spending today. If you’re worried about getting sick, wash your hands and eat healthy foods. But once you’ve done what’s realistic, pray and give the rest of the issue to God. It’s in his hands.
- Call people and have real conversations. Even if you haven’t talked in a long time, there is a natural starting point now: ask how they’re doing with social distancing! Phone calls are more connecting than texts or Snapchats.
- Write letters to people you care about. Expressing your thoughts, memories, and prayers in writing can be encouraging not only to them, but to you.
- Don’t be totally alone if you can help it. Single folks may want to hunker down with family or friends. If you are exposed to the virus or test positive to the virus, protect your home and body so you can still be somewhat proximal to others.
Family Conflict Tips
- Help each family member to still take time for themselves. This may be time in their individual bedrooms, or allowing someone to cook a meal alone in the kitchen, or even locking yourself in the bathroom for 20 minutes to take a bath. Alone time can be valuable.
- Try out some new family devotional time. You might read Scripture together, ask questions, or play worship songs in the living room. Purposeful focusing on God’s Word and his call in our lives can help to calm relationship tensions.
- Watch your tongue and use it wisely. This would include biting your tongue when frustration is about to lead you to speak rashly. But this would also include the purposeful speaking of words of encouragement. Take this time to tell your loved ones how great they are.
- Focus on enjoying each other’s company. This will mean throwing aside your schedule and ignoring the to-do list sometimes. Play a game together. Have a conversation over a bowl of ice cream. It’s okay if not every to-do item gets done.
- Focus on the positive. You may not feel that these social distancing measures are necessary, but they provide an opportunity to love your neighbor well.
- Follow health precautions, and feel confident about playing your role to help the community. You may not be at high-risk with this virus, but someone around you certainly is. It can help you feel less frustrated when you can feel confident in what you are doing.
- Avoid people who are grumbling and complaining. This will only build your frustration, without actually changing anything. And of course, make sure you are not the grumbler!
- Redeem the time. You may have less time on your hands if your kids are home, or more time on your hands if you can’t go into work. But with technology today, there are plenty of avenues to spend more time in God’s Word, more time in prayer, and more time with godly speakers, sermons, radio streaming, and more.
- Don’t neglect your prayer life. None of this crisis is a surprise to God, and none of his plan for you will be derailed by this virus. This may be an opportunity to learn or grow. Prayer is always a worthwhile investment of time.
- Encourage someone. You’ll be surprised by how much better you feel when you have the opportunity to encourage someone else.
- Keep a larger perspective. This crisis will not last forever. It may last longer than we’d like, but it is not eternal. Yet some things are eternal: people. Don’t let this virus or the stress of this crisis define who you are or how you treat people. Let God define that.
We are all waiting to see how this crisis plays itself out. Don’t ignore your mental health in the meantime.