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Coping during COVID-19: Dealing with Anxiety and Self-care

Phil Bradfield

“Be still and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10

The worldwide outbreak of coronavirus has led to some intentional changes for all of us.  The stress of the pandemic alone can feel overwhelming, not to mention all of the changes that have followed in its wake. We all deal with stress differently, and we should absolutely continue doing those things that work well for us, but we should also commit ourselves to doing some things for the sake of being consistent and unified with others.

Groups at Risk for Higher Stress Levels

The people who are more likely to have a stronger stress reaction to all of this include the elderly, those with chronic health issues who are at higher risk, first responders, healthcare workers, and children and adolescents. We can all choose to help those who fall into these groups by checking in on them, reassuring them and praying for them. We can also practically follow guidelines set by the CDC and our national leaders and remain calm for those watching to see how we react.

Another group that stands to be more stressed includes single parents and spouses of healthcare workers. Many of these individuals are at home with children, attempting to maintain a new homeschooling schedule, the house, and potentially remote work.

Adding Structure to Cope

With remote work and homeschooling being the norm for most during this time, it is up to each household to add intentional structure. Structure can reduce stress and anxiety for our children, so having set times for school work, arts and crafts, outside fun, quiet time, and meals together is good for everyone.

Try your best to eat healthy foods and exercise or physically unwind, which can be done together as a family. My family and I go to our local park each evening after dinner to walk and be together, and it has been great.

If you are a single parent or spouse of a healthcare worker who is trying to work from home on top of all the change, I would encourage you to be respectfully assertive in requesting flexibility around when you are able to work. Work hours might have to be divided up throughout the day and in the evening after kids are in bed, and that’s okay.

I encourage everyone to care for themselves by doing one thing in particular: Take intentional breaks from all media – news, social media, etc. This may seem counterintuitive, because right now we want all the information we can get. Focus on getting the information you need, and take breaks from keeping it in front of you.

Take intentional time to be with God during this isolation period. Implement Matthew 6:6 and find the quietest room in your house, go inside and shut the door, and just be with Jesus.

One thing that is sure to help us intentionally find those quiet moments is to wait on God in the stillness. Psalm 46:10 tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” Allow Him to lead you to passages of scripture that can give you peace, and ask for the names of those you should share those passages with. For me, it has been Psalm 103:1-5, Psalm 77:14, and all of Psalm 91.

I leave you with a model for prayer for during this time: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1-4).

Let us pray for our leaders and for God to use this time to lead people to the truth!