The COVID pandemic can be stressful for people. Fear of the disease, panic over empty grocery shelves, loss of employment, and the loss of control and routine can be overwhelming. How you and those around you respond to the changes and stress can make you and them stronger when the pandemic is over. Lots of things are different in our lives now, so it’s a good time to learn, try new things, and make changes that we’ll be happy with when this is over.
As Christians we strive to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. By successfully moving your focus from the fear and stress, the fruit of the Spirit will have room to bloom and grow in your life. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all characteristics that we need more of now.
Establish Healthy Routines
You will appreciate establishing a routine to add a sense of normalcy to your life. Doing some of the same things as you did before will help, but obviously some changes are being forced on us. Setting new schedules will help you feel more in control. If you have more time, try scheduling some new things into your day to enrich your life instead of focusing on the problems. If your day is packed with working from home, home-schooling kids, and family time, try scheduling some memory-making fun times into your evenings or take an afternoon off. With some planning and effort, when your family looks back on the pandemic of 2020, it will be remembered as a great adventure–when your family had so much fun and started new traditions.
Care For Your Physical Health
Stress is hard on our bodies. If we don’t deal well with stress it can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, or insomnia. Our children are experiencing stress, too. Let’s flip our thinking to working toward the fruit of the Spirit instead of getting rid of the stress. We all have different levels of stress now during the pandemic than before. By putting our focus on the positive fruit of the Spirit, we will improve our lives in the present, and those changes will continue after the crisis is over.
Taking care of your general health and well-being is even more important than ever. Eating well-balanced meals and staying hydrated help with both mental and physical health, and also encourages self-control. Walking outside is helpful to combat stress and get some Vitamin D. In areas where leaving your residence is not an option, try walking in place during a 30-minute TV show or get the entire family together and do an exercise video together – that could be funny, enjoy the laughs.
Find Joy in the Little Things
We all can find joy in remembering good times. Look through photo albums or photos on your phone and take turns sharing stories with your family about the fun times represented in the photographs. Let your kids tell how they remember the memories. It’s not the accuracy of the memories, but remembering the fun times again will lower stress and increase your joy.
As we’re staying in together little things may begin to add up into bigger things and kiddos may begin pushing each other’s buttons. Why not try changing the focus. Instead of focusing on the irritating, try an “Appreciation Exercise”. Since most families are now eating meals together, have everyone tell something they appreciate about each family member that day. They may be funny or serious, but it’s a good tradition to start and you may find that the kids may want to continue recognizing kindness after the pandemic is over.
Align Your Focus
By our nature we tend to move toward or focus on whatever is loudest – and at this time it’s the Coronavirus news. Make a concerted effort to spend some time focused on fun and enjoying time together. Try some family activities like a family movie night, with the lights turned low and popcorn or other movie snacks. Have a family cook-off, divide into teams, choose a category, and start cooking. You could make anything from cupcakes to sliders. Then taste and pick a winner. Family game night is a favorite, but if you’re sheltering alone, try calling a friend and playing a game together. It may take some trial and error, but it can be an enjoyable activity. Make the time more about the fun and making memories than who wins. Or if you’re away from smaller children, try Facetime and read them a story book.
Quiet time is necessary for us all to recharge – time to focus on God, not time to think about all that’s wrong with the world. Peace and quiet will help put the overwhelming feelings we’re all experiencing into perceptive. Just because you’re sheltering at home alone, it doesn’t automatically assume you’re quiet. Take time to schedule a few moments to listen to a soothing song, gently pet your cat or dog, or maybe enjoy a cup of tea. This may help to quiet your mind and encourage a feeling of peacefulness.
Turn your focus from the COVID pandemic and look toward God. Whether you start a new devotional book or spend time reading the Bible, use some time to focus on the Lord. Faith is often strengthened during times of storms. Make time for personal devotions for yourself, but if you have children at home, they will also thrive from time spent together in God’s Word. Devotions geared toward children will capture and hold their attention. Select a scripture to talk about and memorize. They often will look forward to these family times beyond the crisis.
Don’t Just Survive – Thrive!
Now is the time for families and individuals to make changes in their lives to come through the pandemic closer than before. One thing the crisis has done is to pull us back from our hectic day to day lives. You may be completely alone in your apartment, you may be working from home more hours than usual and trying to home school, and cooking more meals at home, or you may be somewhere in the middle. But everyone can benefit from using this difficult time to reassess our ways of living life. Take an inventory of changes you want to make to see more characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit in your life. Begin to make some changes and you’ll be happier now and when the COVID pandemic is over.