We all find ourselves in different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are under tightly monitored “shelter in place” orders, in various stages of lockdown, wearing masks, social distancing and spending extraordinarily long stretches of time trapped indoors. We watch the daily changes as the virus spreads and pray for the spread to slow. We want you to know that we are watching and praying and waiting with you.
These are surreal times, and as we struggle to adjust, it can be easy to succumb to the disorienting, structureless passage of time. The “new normal” of not having any idea how long this will last, or how much it might permanently change things, is likely to take its toll on our mental health.
As the quarantine stretches from weeks to months, if you haven’t found some routines and means of connection to bring more structure to your days, we wanted to remind you that it is imperative to take care of yourself. Here are some simple practices that, especially taken together, can make a huge difference:
1) Consider the vulnerable.
Keep your eyes out for those in your circles who might be more vulnerable during this time of isolation. Consider your single friends, especially the ones who live alone, and reach out to them. Marriages, especially ones that have been struggling, can become especially strained during this time. And for some, home isn’t the safest or easiest place to be.
The elderly and immunocompromised carry their own set of real fears. Write a letter to the elderly woman on your street, and let her know that she can reach out to you if she needs help. Set up a video chat to check in on the vulnerable people in your life.
2) Use technology to stay in touch.
In this time of physical distancing, we need social connection more than ever. Regular times to check in about how you’re doing, pray together, and engage in God’s word together don’t need to stop.
Use tech creatively to pursue a connection with your friends and family.
3) Enjoy God’s creation.
Spending time in creation reorients our hearts and reminds us that our God holds all things together. If your city allows it, get outside and breathe in the fresh air.
Try to do this every day if you’re able.
4) Take care of your body.
Try to eat on a regular schedule, and strive to eat nutritiously. Exercise daily if you are able. Aim to get a full night’s sleep. Go to bed and wake up on a regular schedule.
5) Establish structure.
Many of us have had our regular life and work disrupted, and are searching for creative ways to move forward. Others of us may be working around the clock in the medical field. Some of us may suddenly have more time on our hands than we want!
Establishing some sense of schedule and structure can be especially helpful in times of chaos, even if the schedule is basic and simple.
6) Take daily, planned breaks from the news and social media.
We are flooded right now with 24-7 coverage of the crisis at hand. Social media can be a comforting way to feel connected in isolation, but try to take note of emotions as you’re reaching for your phone.
Beware of mindless scrolling in these times when feeds are flooded with all things COVID-19.
7) Reflect and Commune with God.
Make space, perhaps at the beginning and end of each day, to mindfully reflect and invite God in. Take note of your emotions, stress level, and front-burner anxieties.
Practice noticing your emotions and anxieties and responding with compassion rather than judgment. Write them down, talk about them with a loved one if you’d like, and bring them to Jesus.
8) Make Time to Laugh.
Make time to do the things you enjoy, to laugh with loved ones, to play games and to feast as you are able in a state of quarantine.
9) Practice lament.
It is right and good to grieve what is unfolding and the tremendous losses you’re experiencing. Talk about it with others, and with Jesus.
10) Practice thanksgiving and Kingdom vision.
Where do you see God’s kingdom moving forward today? Where have you seen God’s provision?
Notice and name these things together with your family and friends.
11) Practice extravagant grace with one another…
…with your family, with your friends, with your neighbors. None of us has ever done this before, and we are all figuring this out together.
While this event feels unprecedented in our time, I am grateful that what is unfolding is not new or unknown to God, or to the people of God throughout history. In my best moments, I’m excited that we, together with Christians all over the world, get to be the hands and feet of Jesus at this specific moment in human history.
Serge missionaries around the world are uniquely positioned to offer resurrection hope in the face of fear.
If you would like to help us be able to respond quickly to emergencies and crises like the coronavirus pandemic, please give to Serge’s “Urgent Needs” Fund.