Looking after your mental and spiritual health during the Coronavirus pandemic. (By Lee Woodward)

Many of us are now feeling the affects of the current situation concerning the coronavirus. Everyday we are being bombarded by information about the coronavirus through various media outlets. Not all of it is helpful. There are now people in our communities who have now been told to self isolate. Others of us are now becoming aware of how our actions effect not only us, but others who may be vulnerable to the coronavirus. This understandably may have an effect on our mental and spiritual health. So here are my suggestions that may help you during this time.


Avoid speculation, gossip and rumours.
“Do not spread false reports.” Exodus 23:1a

The Bible talks strongly against false reports, gossip and rumours. During this time it is helpful to avoid speculation and to rely on reputable sources of information concerning the coronavirus. It has been my experience that gossip and rumours can cause high levels of stress and anxiety. However when we are well informed with true and quality information then it can help to reduce fear and anxiety and help us to produce one of the fruits of the spirit called self control. Feeling like you are in control of yourself can help you to deal and cope with difficult situations. As it states in 2 Timothy 1:7, “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV)

Let’s all focus on what we can do and not what we can’t do. One thing we can all do is to follow the advice that has already been given to us by the government. The main advice that has been given to the public is to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Washing your hands consistently may become tedious for some of us very quickly. If you get bored of singing “Happy birthday” to yourself then you can always start to recite The Lord’s prayer instead or sing amazing grace. Learn how to turn washing your hands into a spiritual exercise that can help you to draw close to God. For example, washing your hands can become a time of short prayer. It can become a symbolic act of washing away all the fears and worries of the day and giving those struggles to God.

God has given us all the gift to pray. Let the practice of prayer inform your mental and spiritual health. Gossip and rumours will only increase your anxiety. Prayer is an essential mental and spiritual health tool that helps to reduce anxiety. Prayer is a gift that fortifies our hearts with comfort and hope during desperate times.

Below is a link to an article from the Baptist Union calling us to pray.

https://www.baptist.org.uk/Articles/568723/Coronavirus_Call_to.aspx

Here are some websites that have been suggested to help inform us and hopefully reduce our anxiety levels. The links below suggest information and guidance that may be useful during the Coronavirus pandemic.

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/wuhan-novel-coronavirus /

https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/


Try to stay connected with other people.
“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

As Christians we value and find meaning in the ability to gather together as a group of believers in Christ. During this time it may not be physically possible to meet together to embrace acts of prayer, worship and fellowship. Fortunately we can still stay connected with the church and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Here are a few ways to do that…..

Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp.

Here in the 21st century we can now video or audio call people. This proved incredibly valuable for me when I moved back from California to the UK. When I was in California I was part of a community of Christians that became a significant part of my life. Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp have all played a huge part in staying connected with the valuable friendships and connections I made in California. During this time we can stay connected with each other by praying and having fellowship through Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp video and audio calls.

Podcasts and social media videos.

There are now huge amounts of Christian resources available on social media that can help to edify and encourage your faith. In recent times I have been listening to Joel Osteen on Instagram. I love listening to Joel Osteen because he has a very distinct Texas accent, but more importantly his messages are simple, real and encouraging. Joel Osteen may not be for everyone, but you can choose from the many preachers and pastors who now post their messages on social media.

YouTube worship videos.

You can now access a variety of worship songs on YouTube. There are many YouTube worship videos that show the worship leaders performing the songs, which can give you a real sense of a atmosphere of worship. Other videos include the lyrics of the songs so you can follow along in your own home. Worship can be a powerful weapon against the mental health issues that seek to plague our minds and hearts. Worship invites the presence of Jesus into fearful situations.


Do not judge others.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1

You may find yourself wanting to negatively judge those from other nations because you may feel they are responsible for the outbreak of the coronavirus. Judgemental thinking can add to your anxiety and stress. Jesus tells us not to be judgemental. Being non judgemental is about becoming aware of new and different perspectives. It is about being open to other possible truths and perspectives. At the end of the day, Jesus loves every single human being on this planet. We must learn to see people with the eyes of Jesus. Jesus skilfully interacted with those who were different and diverse. We too must learn how to speak and act with empathy just as Jesus did. We need to love those who are different and diverse in a world where it is easy to negatively judge others.


Remember to laugh.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Obviously we need to take seriously the implications of the coronavirus. However lets not forget to laugh. Remember to have a good joke and laugh with friends and family. Don’t let fear rob you of your joy and your ability to laugh. Laughter and joy are good mental and spiritual medicines for your mind. There is some great wholesome humour going around the internet. For example, back in the day I remember when we had so much toilet paper that people would decorate the trees of their enemies with it.


A final note.

God promised us that He would help us and that He would be with us. Sometimes we need deep insight, but other times we just need to hear kind and encouraging words. May these kind words of our God be a comfort to you today.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Peace be with you! In Jesus name, Amen.

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