Here we are in the Philadelphia suburbs, ordered to stay in our homes for an unnamed amount of time. Well, this change has inspired me to write more. Today I want to encourage you in different ways you may want to care for yourself during this time, especially if you are stuck at home. Let me cover 5 areas:
Physically: We can still go outside during this time. I strongly encourage you to go outside at least once a day for a walk or at least for a little fresh air. If you can’t go outside, try some YouTube workouts to get you moving – or you could always have a dance/worship party!
Mentally: Try to do things that keep your mind busy and sharp. I recently bought a word search puzzle to do to pass the time. You can also find Sudoko, dot to dot puzzles, and crossword puzzles as well, whether in paper or on your phone apps (try your local dollar store or Amazon). You may be able to find free courses or Bible studies online during this time as well.
For example, check out this link for a free online Bible study with Max Lucado about anxiety: https://www.faithgateway.com/anxious-for-nothing-obs-registration/.
Also, a more involved course related to happiness and mental health through Yale University is also offered for free right now:https://www.coursera.org/learn/the-science-of-well-being?action=enroll&utm_campaign=opencourse.welcome.the-science-of-well-being.~opencourse.welcome.rUHfSakHEeeQ3gpuC4Fs_g.&utm_medium=email&utm_source=other
Emotionally: Try a meditation app. There are so many, including Calm, Headspace, Simple Habit, and Soultime. I specifically like Soultime because it is Christian-based and includes scripture readings as well. It might be helpful if you’re having a bout of anxiety or if you need help falling asleep. Also, creativity is proven to help your mental health. Try coloring (I just got an adult coloring book at the Dollar Tree – and as far as I know, they are still open!), painting, drawing, or simply doodling.
Socially: Keep in touch with friends and family over the Internet or phone. Make sure to check in with the most isolated family members. Perhaps give them a word of encouragement you found recently in a book, or offer to pray for them. Also, be sure to reach out for help and connection if you need support. Try to be proactive and plan to make at least one contact a day. You can use free programs like Skype, Face Time, Google Hangouts, and also Free Conference Calls for groups.
Spiritually: Probably most importantly, use this time to draw closer to the Lord. It’s a good time to listen to podcasts and sermons on YouTube to stay encouraged and focused on God. Personally, I enjoy journaling a lot. I write my prayers to God, and I listen for and record His response. I recently heard a great way to spend quiet time with God – pick a short passage from Scripture and read it. Ask God what He wants you to know about it, and then write a response back to Him. The next day, you can go back to that Scripture and ask God if He has anything else to tell you. Then, go on to the next part of that Scripture or pick a new one.
Things to Avoid:
Numbing out on social media and TV: I know it’s so easy to distract yourself and pass time these ways, but in longer amounts of times, they wear on your mental health and you end up numbing yourself instead of being in the present. Instead, use social media and TV in moderation and stay present with other people and things around you (physically or virtually).
Staying in bed all day: This is a sure fire way to get depressed. If you’re still tired when you wake up, try at least to move yourself to your couch to read or listen to music.
Catastrophizing about the future: This one is hard, I know, with all the uncertainty about how long you may be staying home or perhaps your finances. Remember, each day has enough worry of it’s own (Matthew 6:34), and it’s best to take it one day at time.