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Finding Emotional Health in the Pandemic

Acknowledge feelings and release them in prayer

Even if what you are feeling is anxiety, fear, a sense of helplessness or other feelings, acknowledge that you feel that way right now and connect with God about how you feel.  Many of us have heard this scripture quoted or floating through our brains lately – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Look for opportunities for ministry to others

Even small, random acts of kindness are big during this time. God takes these small actions and multiplies them, but the best thing is that you will also generate positive, life-giving thoughts and feelings through these actions – in essence, the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, long-suffering, etc. Many of you are already doing this just because of who you already are in Christ and your sense of calling (Galatians 5, 1 Peter 2:9)

See vulnerability as part of the Christian life

Our current vulnerability is part of being a Christian and a good basis for our ongoing relationship with God rather than as a deficit or mark of shame.   Paul says that Christ was crucified in weakness, “yet he lives by God's power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God's power we will live with him in our dealing with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:4)

Sense the developing unity around you

Look for unity as you connect online with others from your own base or from other countries.  Just as we come together every day to support and encourage others, we also support each other in navigating through and around the roadblocks and difficulties that the Coronavirus situation throws our way.  Despite the hardships that we are facing, take a moment to breathe in this strong feeling of unity together in Christ in this present time. (Ephesians 4:12-13)  

Take time to develop a new pattern of work and connection online.

Some of us have our whole family at home and others of us are working from home almost for the first time in our lives. You may feel frustration with not having daily personal contact, the quick chat at the coffee machine, the ability to grab office resources or to have the space you need to concentrate and feel like work is flowing.  Practice self-compassion and give yourself grace and time to get used to your new environment.  Pray and ask God to meet you in this new, challenging space – He specializes in meeting us like this! (James 4:8)

Reconsider your work/life balance

Use this time to reconsider your work/life balance and the idea of Sabbath resting and having a healthy flow to work and everything else that is happening in your life.  A lot of us are going 24/7 and some of us are working very close to a level of exhaustion or compassion fatigue.  This could be a good time to evaluate what we do in the light of the long-distance race that He has given us to finish well. (Hebrews 12:1)

Contact others when you feel isolated

Practice sending out short, brief e-mails or messages if you are feeling a sense of isolation either from the need to self-isolate or practice “social distancing” - including people who you normally work with.  Many of us do this around the coffee machine at work (it seems to be one of our hallmarks!), but this can also be done virtually.  Remember that some of us may be struggling with a feeling of isolation or feeling alone – and even a brief note may help. (Thessalonians 5:11)

Limit your exposure to media.

Get the right facts and the news information that you need but realize that too much exposure to the 24/7 news cycle can be harmful.  Many of us have already shared scripture, good preaching, worship music and other uplifting and even funny clips that have been a real blessing and an antidote to other forms of media. (Philippians 4:8)

Get exercise, keep a healthy rhythm and eat healthy.

If we are confined to our homes and not able to easily get out, we may start making poor choices for eating and sleeping or decide not to take care of our physical bodies.  It is important for all of us and for the ministry that we keep our immune systems strong.  (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Dr. Karen Irvin


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