Mindful Mondays: Connection Counteracts Chaos
By: Katrina Harris, M.A., LMFT & Andrea Lundeen, M.A., AMFT
Anybody feel that life suddenly became an involuntary game of 52 card pick up? What was business as usual has become a wave of change, loss, fear, separation, uncertainty and feeling like things are out of our control.
So what is a normal way to react to a global pandemic? Who the heck knows!? We are all experiencing a collective loss of our normal lives and freedoms, but in different and personal ways. It is so important not to compare our challenges or losses. All of our struggles are valid! It’s okay to feel our feelings and it’s normal to feel overwhelmed in this crisis.
To begin to face the stresses of this extraordinary time, we have to pick our cards back up and connect to what we know is true and who can help us to bring perspective and hope; Jesus and those whom He has put in our lives. And we must focus on our overall health: spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, familial, occupational, financial and relational health to combat the feelings of loneliness and depression that can produce varying degrees of symptoms. So what are some common symptoms of depression?
- Everything feels hard and even small things seem to take a lot of effort
- Feeling low or numb, and the things that used to bring enjoyment no longer bring happiness
- Finding oneself tearful, irritable or moody
- Feeling blue or sad or just blah
- Changes in appetite, eating too much or too little
- Feeling tired or fatigued
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Finding it hard to concentrate or get motivated to do work
- Thoughts of not wanting to wake up, or even suicide
NOTE: If you are having any suicidal thoughts, it is important that you reach out for help immediately. Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text MHFA to 741741 to talk to a Crisis Text Line counselor, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
SO, WHAT CAN I DO?
Ideas for Connection to Counteract the Chaos and to Cultivate Creative Coping:
Connecting with Jesus
Jesus felt feelings of despair and being overwhelmed. In His darkest days, He reached out to His Father and He reached out to his friends. That is what He wants us to do, to be in His Word and to call out to Him in prayer in every situation. Staying connected in the Word daily, incorporating The Lord’s Prayer and other devotionals can drastically improve mental health and allow Jesus to work through the Chaos on our behalf.
Connecting Our Minds to Truth & Guarding Our Hearts
What lies are we believing? We live in a broken world and there is also an enemy that tries to persuade us to believe things that aren’t true and not of God. We can take all of our thoughts captive and present them to Jesus to seek the truth and rid ourselves of lies that are negatively impacting our lives. Consider limiting news intake and intentionally including scripture, uplifting books, and other encouraging media of speakers and authors that instill hope. And reaching out to those in your life who will breathe truth, hope, and life into you.
Connecting with Your Community
Nourish psychological and spiritual closeness with your community. Participate in church and other online opportunities, which includes live chats and prayer requests. There are numerous virtual platforms to interact with friends and family.
- With discernment, some are finding how to to socially distance in creative ways, like a driveway drive by and safe distance exercise.
- Having accountability with a partner and/or a group can offer motivation, like a group text to check in and make phone/facetime dates to have that to look forward to.
- If working with a professional, accountability is usually a part of the treatment plan. Remember, to get results, you don’t need to do things perfectly, just consistently.
Connecting with Our Body
- Don’t forget the sun is still coming out and make a point to see and enjoy it!
- Move your body every day and be creative, whether it is virtual or outdoors, dance parties, brisk walk, etc.; and keep those healthy chemicals moving in the brain and body and flushing out toxins.
- Get enough sleep so God can restore your body, mind and spirit, and speak to you.
- Eat nourishing foods and staying hydrated.
- Limit sweets and alcohol, within reason.
Connecting through Serving Others
Pray about it! The best way to get out of yourself, is to show up for others. It can be making a meal for your family, calling someone that lives alone or helping a neighbor. Maybe it’s a serving opportunity bigger in the community. We often get more out of our service to others, than they do from us. MVC has a care team with current opportunities to be of service to others during this time.
Connecting through Grace & Gratitude
Being intentional about evaluating gratitude can help see beyond our circumstances and focus on what we do have. It can also bring perspective to our current situation and what we can learn from it. God is working in our lives and gratitude creates space to reveal what that is. Gratitude is shown to improve physical and mental health and increase hope. God also gives us Grace and practicing it with ourselves and with others offers a better quality of life…for everyone involved!
Connecting through Professional Counsel
Consider speaking with a mental health professional, spiritual advisor, pastor, life coach or other practitioners that are trained to come along side people in times of crisis. They can provide a safe place to process through different challenges and fears you are facing, as an individual and/or as a family. You are not alone in this and you might be the one feeling responsible to help others through this. Asking for help is an act of humility that Jesus relied on in His own experiences. Pray about what’s best for you and your family.
Contradict Unhealthy Coping
Be aware of how you might be negatively dealing with stress. Everything in moderation right, however, some behaviors may be negatively impacting your mood and overall health, like snacking on junk food, increased intake of alcohol or other substances, camping out in front of the television for hours on end, overly sleeping that impacts the day. Try to have balance in these areas so it doesn’t bring you down. If you are struggling with making healthier choices, this might be an indicator that professional help is needed.
Customize Creative Self-Care
Find what works for you and your family! This can be fun and open opportunities with connections with family and friends, but also honoring time for yourself. Maybe journaling, worship music, online workouts, painting, baths, karaoke, wrenching on something in the garage, building projects, gardening, skateboarding, board games, virtual game nights, etc. Think back to things you used to enjoy as a child or before life got so busy. Put the list in writing so you can remind yourself of options when you are feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated.
You are not alone. You are Loved. There is Hope. One day at a time. Don’t steal tomorrow’s worries and rob yourself of today’s joys. Jesus is with you always.
To learn about weekly online support group for moms or other counseling needs:
For freedom from depression and anxiety: