We find ourselves in uncharted territory. The news of a global pandemic has seized our attention and dramatically effected our lives and our livelihood! So many of our friends are losing hours at work and necessary wages. Investments and pension plans are spiraling. The threat of a deadly virus has shocked a nation as businesses and services have closed or radically altered their hours and their ways of engaging with people.
And though there is every reason to worry – Don’t!
History tells us that there will be an end to this as certain as there was a beginning. There will be better days ahead as surely as there has been in the past!
Depression – not the Coronavirus – is the bigger enemy to most of us right now. Let me off some tips, some simple practices that are so important for those who are feeling anxious or overwhelmed by the news:
1) Research shows that 30 minutes of moderate daily exercise is very helpful in elevating mood. Consider taking a brisk walk! Take a friend along with you! It makes it harder to avoid the activity if someone is waiting for you.
2) Maintain a healthy diet, and by that I mean cut down on processed foods and include more fresh fruits and vegetables. (Less sugar, more vitamins can be a big help. Think water over soda pop.)
3) Take a break from the constant streaming of the news. You can still give yourself time to catch up for 30 minute news updates two times a day. But know that the majority of people you know, the majority of people in your neighborhood are healthy and content.
4) Take this time in semi-isolation to read a book, play monopoly or Uno with your family. Put a puzzle together – and use that time to talk to your puzzle-partners. Clean out the garage, organize your storage area. Cut the grass. It is that time of year again. Sort through clothes you want to keep and those you want to pass on. And did I mention – take a walk! The air at the Barboursville Park is clean!
5) The Old Testament describes Elijah’s great success defeating the prophets of a false god in 1 Kings 18. But immediately after that victory, Elijah was filled with panic when he learned that the queen was enraged with him and wanted him dead!
He fled at the lowest point in his life from out of fear. The Bible says: Elijah went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:4)
We are reminded that life has highs and lows, and as in a mountain range, the lows often come right after the highs. Like Elijah, we may scale the heights of spiritual victory only to find ourselves in the dark valley of depression soon after. But we read on...
Elijah lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. (1 Kings 19:5-6)
Depression can drain your energy, confuse your thoughts, and attack your faith. Depression can affect anyone. But God provided care to Elijah. He provided food so that he could regain his strength. An angel touched Elijah, confirming to him that he was not alone. And twice God encouraged Elijah to rest.
The future is never as bad as we may think. Our imaginations can work with extra negativity simply because we are submerged in the ongoing news casts. There comes a time when healthy men and women must turn away from the news and start engaging in positive activities and meaningful relationships.
Hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness is not who we are! You are loved, treasured, and prized by your family, friends, and by the Savior Jesus Christ! Lean into Him for He wants you to know you are His!
Remember, this pandemic will come to an end – the sun will shine and blue skies will return, children will play ball in the parks and you will be able to laugh again! If you’re noticing heavy signs of depression with someone you love, be the one to initiate a call for help to your pastor, a trusted family friend, or doctor. [See symptoms of depression below] If you’re finding yourself engaged in constant but petty arguments or conflict with your spouse, take a break – take the high road, and assume a posture of forgiveness and kindness during these stressful times. Your spouse may be experiencing more worry or a greater sense of failure with his or her responsibilities to care for the family at this time than ever before!
Some forms of depression are part of life’s ups and downs. Like Elijah, be still and listen for God’s “still small voice” to comfort you.
What are the symptoms of depression?
If you think you're getting depressed, don’t try to tough it out. See your doctor. Lots of treatments can help, including antidepressants and talk therapy. And make sure you receive the backing you need from family, friends, and support groups.