By Michelle Rabon, Crosswalk.com
I looked at myself in the mirror, another day and another morning where I woke up more anxious than the last. It seems I cannot leave my house, pick up my phone or interact with anyone without COVID being the topic of conversation. Even beyond that with all that is happening in the world and the heaviness weighing on the hearts of every person who breathes.
There is no escaping a broken world.
I think for the first time in a long time, we are back to the place where our eyes are opened to the fact that we are sinners in a sinful and broken world. Generations before us who endured horrible wars, tragedies, and pandemics already know what we are learning for ourselves.
Our world is not immune to the darkness. None of this pain is new.
However, our generation and our children’s generation have not experienced anything like this. A pandemic is foreign ground.
Almost two years after the pandemic started, there is a new epidemic creeping to the surface. It was silent at first but has grown louder as time has gone on, and frustration with COVID is at an all-time high.
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When a Mental Health Epidemic Takes Over
Our mental stability is waning. We are filled with anxiety over what may happen next. Will our loved ones get sick? Will we get COVID again? Will hospitals overflow? Will vaccines be mandated? Will we get to go back to work? Will COVID control our lives forever? There are so many questions that fill our minds that rob us of living lives of freedom.
We have been so overcome with the sickness that we have missed what this has done to our mental health. A price that we will pay long after the pandemic has ended. This has shaped our minds for the rest of our lives.
I have felt it as someone who already suffers from anxiety, but I have now watched people around me who have never experienced anxiety or panic suddenly fall victim to it. So how do we come out on the other side of this? How do we heal not only our bodies from COVID but our minds?
What must we do to heal from COVID's Impact on mental health?
1. Be willing to admit what Covid has done to our mental health.
The conversations that surround mental health have always held tension, but the pandemic has added extra tension. We have to be willing to admit the problems we are having. Just like with day-to-day anxiety, admitting is the first step to healing. If the last two years have brought anxiety to the surface, acknowledging what is taking place matters a great deal in the process.
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2. Know what triggers your anxiety.
Throughout the pandemic, I would become obsessed with looking at statistics and new stories until one day I could no longer take it. I could no longer watch the news, scroll online, or even engage in conversations about the pandemic without having a surge of anxiety and even panic attacks. Stepping away from the constant intake of information was vital in finding healing from my constant anxiety.
3. Do what you can.
This is a simple thought, but do what you can and leave the rest in God’s hands. If I know I am doing everything in my power to take care of myself and take care of my family, I have to leave the consequences to God. He is in control of all things.
4. Do not allow COVID to control your thought life.
We are almost two years into this pandemic and the struggle is more complex than ever. However, we get to choose whether or not we will allow this pandemic to control our thought lives. Is it in every thought we think? Will it define our attitudes towards other people? Will it fuel already volatile emotions? Remember the decisions and choices you can make that COVID doesn’t have a say in. Thank God for what he has given you to steward and act on today.
5. Seek counseling.
Counseling can make a world of difference in our lives when we struggle with mental health issues. There are times when we cannot make sense of our thoughts and feelings and require an outside professional to help us make sense of it all. Our emotions do not have to control us. Don’t be afraid to seek counseling.
Covid has trampled us mentally, the constant intake of information, the panic, the worries, the darkness around us, but we do not have to remain there. The pandemic may have robbed us of a lot of things but it does not have to rob us of our mental health as well.
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Remember: We Can Thrive Mentally in the Unknowns Because of Christ
Jesus tells us in Scripture “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We all can have peace even in the midst of trouble because Christ has already overcome it all. He has defeated sickness and death, as the story of Scripture shows us. Christ has conquered all disease and illness–even mental illnesses. He has overcome these troubles of the world.
It doesn’t mean we will face no trouble in this life as believers, but it does mean that we have something sure to hold fast to. When the anxiety over my circumstances rise, I know I can turn to Christ for my peace. I can look to Him for my hope, even when hope seems obscured.
Peter reminds us to “cast your anxieties on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). We can cast off what makes our minds anxious, and Christ will graciously take it.
Paul reminds us to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication give thanks” (Philippians 4:6). I can go to the Lord with thanksgiving and it will renew the strength of my heart and remind me that God is steadfast even in trouble.
If you have found yourself struggling mentally because of the pandemic, don’t be afraid to ask for help and hold fast to the Lord and the peace he gives.
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