COVID-19 and The Mental Health of the Believer
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has induced a fear that has left some communities and homes paralysed. The caution and heed to the health of the public is warranted. However, this state of anxiety leaves us very uncomfortable and uncertain.
Mental health workers have presented concerns about what this collective experience means and the impact this may have. It has been suggested that self-isolation and being quarantined may induce the following emotional experiences:
- Optimism: An eager and positive attitude masked by an intention to be productive and industrious.
- Determination: A deteriorated optimism but an eagerness to stick to intended tasks and schedule.
- Satisfaction and frustration: This stage is shown by an oscillation between productivity and failing to meet targets resulting in satisfaction and frustration at times.
- Depression: This may be elicited by difficulty concentrating, maintaining routine and being away from typical experiences – seeing friends and loved ones, collective gatherings and doing the things we enjoy. You might feel agitated, demotivated, hopeless, or feel a sense of despair.
- Anger: The experience of anger about the situation and the confinement may also creep up. This may lead to getting easily irritated and agitated by others in your household.
- Acceptance: Acknowledging that other things are in our control and others not so much is indicative of accepting the situation for what it is.
- Making meaning: Remembering that this move to self-isolate is necessary and that you’re serving humanity and the greater good to help prevent more sickness and death.
We may not experience all these stages nor may they be experienced in this order. However, this time calls for a reflection and observation of ourselves in relation to things, beings and ideas. This article intends to conscientize you to things that may determine how you get through these times.
Your relationship with information
During this time, we are inundated by information – fake news, statistics and death tolls. It is important that we monitor how we interact with all this information. Information is very accessible and invades our senses constantly. The concern is what this information has the ability to do as we go through these days. This is not to suggest an “ignorance is bliss” approach to coping, but rather a healthy awareness that allows us to be consumed by other joyous things.
We also must hold ourselves accountable for the information we share for others to consume. Is it helpful to overwhelm others who are already spammed continuously with COVID-19 news?
Your relationship with others
This is a time to be evaluative of the role we play in the lives of those near and far. Imagine what it must be like to be in isolation with an abusive or emotionally toxic spouse during this time. Imagine what it must be like living with a high-risk chronic illness during this time. Imagine.
I say imagine, but I am hoping that this will drive us to small acts of service for those near and far. Others we may call and spend ten minutes encouraging or praying with on the phone – not lamenting how inconvenient lockdown is. Let this time drive us to empathy and prayer for others.
Your relationship with self
Some will be spending a lot of time alone or with their own thoughts during this time. This may be healthy and very necessary, but this can also be very destructive too. Time spent with self can allow us to take inventory of our thoughts, attitudes and what we value.
It can be suggested that the self is made up of identity, body image, personality, role performance and esteem. These faculties of the self can aid us navigate the perils of thoughts, attitudes and values that do not help us to be gentle with ourselves during this time.
Self-care is a commonly reiterated message but many of us are yet to determine what that ought to look like. We either err on the extreme of self-neglect and burn out, or the extreme of self -absorption and sinfulness. Take caution brethren.
Your relationship with the Trinity
This is a time for us to think about what God is saying to us. This does not warrant answers but a reckoning with the times that we are living in.
As we go through the seven stages mentioned earlier, it is worth remembering that we are not left alone but with a comforter that is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). May this truth renew our minds as we pray, seek peace and a holy perspective; remaining in fellowship with Christ
The collective fear, panic and uncertainty that exists now is a demonstration of the unbelief that looms over us. May this time serve as an opportunity to remember The Word of God that gives hope to those who are called by Him. Let us repent of our wickedness and hold onto faith in the grace that is promised to us by our Heavenly Father.