Are you tired of the panademic? 5 Tips that help!

He described to me a rising sense of paranoia. An intense premonition that everything is about to go wrong. Maybe he’ll lose his job. Maybe he’ll get sick. Maybe someone he loves will die. Maybe he won’t be able to refill the prescription which he needs to manage his anxiety.

He is far from alone in these types of fears.

An elderly friend recently reached out to me. She was on her second glass of wine before 1:00 p.m., and she was beside herself worrying about whether our local liquor store might close during the shutdown. The only thing that stops her panic attacks these days, she said, is a drink.

5 Tips for When the Isolation of COVID-19 Gets Depressing

As states continue in shutdown mode and social distancing becomes the new national etiquette, we are seeing a rise in anxiety and depression. Sadly, we will likely also see a rise in issues like alcoholism, suicide, eating disorders, and abuse.

We are stressed. And we are isolated. For those with pre-existing conditions, this is a dangerous time. Even people who’ve never struggled with anxiety or depression before are finding themselves hard-pressed to stay calm and positive.

So, here are five observations about the challenges we’re facing, and tips for how to cope with them.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Frank Mckenna

1. Social Deprivation

1. Social Deprivation

It probably goes without saying, but a huge struggle many are dealing with is loneliness. Even the introverts among us are getting antsy as we plod through yet another week of isolation. We miss church. We miss friends. For many, trips to the grocery store or pharmacy have become a welcome escape from the house.

Helpful Tips:

  • Call a friend or family member so you can hear another person’s voice.
  • Video calls using free services like Skype or Facetime are very helpful.
  • Get out of the house daily, while observing current social distancing rules.
  • Understand that emotions like loneliness and depression build up over time. They accumulate a little bit every day, so every day, you’ve got to counter them. Take daily action to relieve these feelings before they reach oppressive levels.

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2. Bitter Disappointment

2. Bitter Disappointment

A few weeks ago, some dear friends from our church had to cancel their wedding because of COVD-19. They still got married, having a quiet ceremony with just the pastor, but it was a bitter disappointment for our church.

Likewise, friends and family across the world have canceled weddings, birthday parties, graduation ceremonies, sporting events, and a whole assortment of celebrations that are of emotional importance to us. It’s okay, and important, to mourn these losses. It’s okay to cry with your 5-year-old that his friends can’t come over for his birthday. This is hard. The letdown is real. Events we once took for granted are suddenly losses that are hard to swallow.

Helpful Tips:

  • Instead of canceling, just postpone. The important thing about birthdays, graduations, and weddings isn’t the exact date, but the joy of life and the celebration of it. The day and time may pass, but the meaning and importance of these events can be celebrated later.
  • If possible, mark the date with a digital celebration. Ask friends and family to send video messages, or participate in a streaming event. This doesn’t have to replace a celebration at a later time, but it may help tide you over and lessen the sadness.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton

3. The Ghost Town Effect

3. The Ghost Town Effect

When I took my daughter to the pediatrician a few weeks ago, the shopping center—which was usually bustling with activity—was completely dead. Here and there a gardener trimmed a bush or a security officer patrolled. But there were no customers. No music. No lights in the clothing stores, salon, fitness gym, or even my favorite coffee shop. It was a ghost town, and it felt creepy.

There is an ominous fear and a grieving we experience when we see normal life grind to a halt. The empty playgrounds, vacant office buildings, and abandoned storefronts speak to an undercurrent of fear; a danger we cannot see.

As we pass by, they remind us that life is fragile, and that the normal activities we once took for granted are now unsafe and not allowed. As a result, we cannot shake this feeling of foreboding. On every corner, along every street, we are reminded that something is very wrong.

Helpful Tips:

  • Establish visual reminders that life continues. For example, my neighbors have been writing encouraging notes to each other on sidewalks, and a lady down the street has decorated her house with teddy bears to entertain children and make people smile.
  • Get outside daily. We’ve found that sitting on our front porch gives us an opportunity to interact with neighbors as they’re out walking or grilling.
  • Nature walks provide a refreshing environment still populated by birds, squirrels, and butterflies. Our cities and suburbs may have slowed down, but mother nature has not.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/David Fillion

4. Fear of the Unknown

4. Fear of the Unknown

For all the presidential addresses and media reporting on COVID-19, the number of things we don’t know is overwhelming. There are people who are sick, but still can’t get tested. There are people out of work, and struggling to find a job. How many will get sick? How many will die? How will this affect the economy? Will I be employed next week? We just don’t know, and that’s terrifying.

Helpful Tips:

  • Focus on what you do know and what you can control.
  • If the news stresses you out, turn it off. Stay informed of your local government guidelines, but know that’s it’s okay to put up boundaries for the sake of your emotional health. Like many things, the media should be consumed in moderation.
  • Keep your mind busy with books, hobbies, games, and things that build you up.

5. Information Overload

You may have noticed that the same stories and statistics tend to get hashed and rehashed in the media ad nauseum. Watch 10 minutes of any national news network, and you’ve pretty much seen their cycle for the entire day, and possibly the week. They tend to pick a hot button issue, and they smash that button obsessively.

In addition, not all news is reliable. The COVID-19 symptoms we were told to watch for last month are not the same today. Depending on who you listen to, what we’re supposed to be afraid of changes week to week. As the number of confirmed cases rises, the percentage of deaths decreases. Symptoms range from pneumonia to the occasional sneeze. The economy is doomed and the economy is booming. It’s hard to sort through the chaos. It’s hard to filter what’s important from what’s not, fact from opinion, and truth from political spin.

Helpful Tips:

  • Turn off the TV. Go a day or two without reading the news. While it’s wise to stay informed, it’s easy, particularly in situations like this, to allow it to inundate our minds and lives.
  • Focus on facts that directly affect you. Count the blessings in your life, and keep those in mind.
  • Don’t let the irritating thing a stranger says online affect how you treat the people living in your home.

Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Dennis Acevedo

Some Encouraging Statistics

Some Encouraging Statistics

Lately, in the news and on social media, we’ve been seeing a lot of scary numbers. So, let’s remember some encouraging statistics:

  • As Christians who place our faith in Jesus, how much does God love us? One hundred percent.
  • How likely are we to go to Heaven? Again, 100%, confirmed.
  • How long will we live in that beautiful place where there is no sickness, fear, or sorrow? Forever.

You and I may suffer in this life, but will live forever in Heaven, because Jesus Christ has overcome death and Hell for us. In this life, we will grow sick, we will feel sad, and we will face challenges. Unless he returns in our lifetime, we will eventually die, but we will rise again into glory. This hope is certain. These promises are guaranteed by God. They aren’t the opinion of a political talking head or television preacher. They aren’t the hypothesis of keyboard warriors, self-proclaimed medical experts, or even bonafide doctors.

This Good News of salvation and redemption comes to us from our Heavenly Father, our Savior, and the Spirit of Truth. He is the Lord and Giver of Eternal Life, and nothing can stand in his way.

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Jennifer Greenberg was abused by her church-going father. Yet she is still a Christian. In her courageous, compelling book Not Forsaken, she reflects on how God brought life and hope in the darkest of situations. Jenn shows how the gospel enables survivors to navigate issues of guilt, forgiveness, love, and value. And she challenges church leaders to protect the vulnerable among their congregations.