Our inner strength and fortitude as Christians are tested during this global health crisis. Not only are we faced with physical health risks, we also find our lives disrupted by quarantines, physical distancing, and economic struggles. Many of us have had their jobs affected, and the rest are trying to keep their careers afloat from home. Our families, too, are feeling strained from the scary headlines and being cooped up for so long.
With so much stress, anxiety, and hardship around us, how can we remain calm, strong, and faithful Christians? Here, we've gathered some practical advice from experts that may be helpful to you during this pandemic. Practice these daily, and enjoin your family as well.
Most of us now find ourselves looking at Facebook and other social networks much more than usual. Whether it's to update ourselves with new information or simply to be entertained, sometimes we get carried away in our scrolling. Before we know it, we've scrolled for hours in one day!
Psychologist Lisa Langer says, "Media can increase your reactivity and worried thoughts." She advises to "make some positive choices for yourself about how much time you look at social media as well as time spent watching the news." If you need amusement, choose to look at positive sites instead.
Dr. Langer also points out that our worries and anxieties become more unhealthy if we bottle them up. Make it a point to find healthy ways to express your feelings. You may reach out to a trusted friend or family member, and ask them to help you unpack the emotional weight.
Likewise, remember to check in on the people you care about. They may be carrying heavy emotions as well and may need someone to help release the baggage. Phone a friend or sit down with someone in your family. A nice conversation may just do you both wonders.
It is sad that many have had to give up work during this pandemic. But before we rush to the next money-making hustle, theology professor Patrick R. Manning invites us to "welcome this moment as a time of Sabbath rest." Since we have this period where our lives have slowed down, we should take it as an opportunity -- and indeed, God's calling -- to rest our spirits, reflect on our lives, and ponder on some positive things we can do to be closer to God.
A safe space is somewhere you can visit to be free of your stresses and anxieties. You'll need such a place when you feel overwhelmed, when you have pent-up emotions to release, and especially when you need to hear God's voice. Your safe space can be a physical room or an outdoor spot where you have privacy, silence, and peace for communing with God. Or it can be a mental space, a state of mind that you can tune in to.
We highly recommend creating a Christian prayer room in your own home (we have instructions here) so you can go there anytime you need to.
Alternatively, psychologist Soyeong Kim suggests a simple way to access your mental safe space: Whenever you are doing something mundane -- like brushing your teeth, having coffee, or preparing for bed -- slow down and pay attention to what you are doing. Mind your posture and your breathing, notice your thoughts, and with one deep exhale, release the clutter in your mind.
Christian pillow pictured above: "Be Still And Know That I Am God" Pillow
Whether we work at home or are just taking our 'vacation' days, having a routine can help us maintain a sense of activity, keeping us away from an unhealthy lethargy. (Inactivity can lead us to slip into destructive moods and habits.)
But don't worry, we're not recommending another hectic 9-to-5 timetable. On the contrary, our 'pandemic routine' should be simple, achievable, and focused only on essentials. It's completely okay to include only a few items in it -- for example, morning prayer at 6, then playtime with kids, lunch, afternoon work shift, and dinner by 7. That's just five items, but they make up a fulfilling day already.
Outline an essentials-only routine for you to try out in the next weeks. You may be surprised at how it contributes to your sense of peace and order.
Reverend James Martin, SJ, reminds us that there are many rumors and lies these days, sowing fear among the public. Remember when people were panic-buying toilet paper for no logical reason? The Reverend advises: "Don’t lend credence to lies or rumors, or give in to panic. Trust what medical experts tell you, not those who fear-monger."
We might also add that instead of feeling afraid or helpless in the face of bad news, we can try to shift our mindset. Instead of thinking, "Oh, no, we are doomed!", try telling yourself, "I am capable. I am resourceful. God is with me. I can handle this." This puts you into "solution-making mode" instead of panic mode.
Christian wall art pictured above: Philippians 4:13 Premium Canvas
Self-care means fulfilling your basic needs, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Some people equate this with going to a spa or going on a shopping spree for 'retail therapy'. But true self-care is not focused on material things. Focus on three essential things.
First, your physical health: Have you eaten nutritious foods today? Are you hydrated? Have you had enough sleep?
Then, your mental and emotional state: Are you surrounded by positive influences? Do you have emotions you need to release? Do you have healthy ways to feel joy? Are you kind to yourself?
Finally, and most importantly, your spiritual wellness: Have you prayed in earnest today? Have you read Bible verses for this pandemic? Do you feel in touch with God and aligned with your faith?
Before the pandemic, we took it for granted that we can just see people in our lives any day or bump into them during our coffee breaks. But now, with quarantines and travel restrictions, we're feeling a loss of direct connections. Thankfully, Professor Manning points out that this is an opportunity for us to make a conscious effort in reaching out to the people we value.
Through phone calls, video calling, and chats, we can show them that we are actively trying to stay in touch. More than that, we can foster communication that is deeper than an everyday "Hi." We can actually instigate real conversations with them, talking about significant topics and sharing our thoughts and sentiments with each other. It can be a wonderful relationship.
Dr. Langer offers one more easy tip to calm yourself: bring your attention to your breathing. Notice your inhales and exhales. Feel the part of your body that rises and falls.Feel the air moving in and out of your body. Do this for a minute or two, anytime you need to quiet the chaos in your mind.
This trick works because it pulls your focus to just one very simple thing, which is breathing (instead of worrying about a million things at once). And when you are noticing your breaths, you'll gradually slow down your breathing, helping you relax even more.
Our Christian leaders constantly enjoin us to pray during this pandemic, even as we've had to cancel services or move them online. We pray because we seek the Lord's guidance, mercy, and aid. Our prayers should also be personally genuine, especially now that we have more time to pray at home. Apart from our universal requests, we can ask God for our individual peace of mind and for a stronger personal faith.
We can also just converse with God, not asking for anything, but just being present in the moment with Him. Praying like this is an amazing salve for the mind and spirit, and helps us grow more attuned to His presence.
Christian wall art pictured above: "Cross Sunset" Premium Canvas Wall Art
Do you find these calmness tips helpful during this pandemic? Share your experiences with us in the comments.
We also have a great list of family-friendly activities you can do at home during quarantine. You might find it helpful, too!
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