Pandemic Survival Guide
Pray – One of the most important coping skills during this pandemic is to PRAY! We need to remember God is in control, even when things seem out of control. We also need to hold onto Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This reminds us that He will bring good out of this, and we will come out of this stronger if we walk through this with Him.
Air – Where it is safe, go outside and get some fresh air and some natural vitamin D from the sun. Going outdoors can be a mini vacation in itself. Also, some of the newest studies are suggesting that Vitamin D could reduce the risk of COVID-19. Sun exposure for 10 – 15 minutes, three times a week, can help you get a nice dose of natural Vitamin D.
News – Stay informed but limit the amount of news you read and listen to on a daily basis. Sometimes less is more (see below).
Deep breathing – This is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, as increasing your oxygen levels helps to relax you. Be smart and do this in a safe place. If you can safely take in some deep breaths of fresh air (like mentioned above), that is even better. Yoga is great for deeper, slower breathing, which enables relaxation.
Exercise – There are many ways to exercise at home. Many at-home exercise apps are available, and some are offering free downloads during this pandemic. Additionally, walking, biking, and gardening are great ways to exercise and stay active, so if you have safe places to do these activities, go get healthy and burn off some stress. (1 Cor. 6:19)
Meditate – Another helpful way to reduce anxiety is to meditate on scripture, God’s promises, the good in your life, and positive affirmations. (Psalm 119) Take five minutes every day, several times a day if needed, and simply think deeply about God and the good things in life (e.g., toilet paper if you have some).
Interest development – We have all said we wish we had time to do… Well, now we do. This stay-at-home time is a perfect opportunity to explore some of your interests, for which normal busyness and daily routine have not previously allowed. In other words, learn something new.
Creative – Similar to developing interests, we have a great opportunity to become creative when we are limited. Therefore, do not be afraid to invent games, fun activities, projects, new recipes, etc. to keep entertained and to pass the time.
Storms pass – Remember that no storm lasts forever, and this “storm” will also pass. Soon, we will see the silver lining around the dark clouds, and eventually, we will see the rainbow.
Unhealthy versus healthy thinking – You have a choice. Do you see the glass half full or half empty? Think about how and what you think. (2 Cor. 10:5) If you find yourself thinking negatively, you can change this to more positive thinking. As a result, you’ll notice a positive change in your mood as well.
Routine – Try to establish somewhat of a normal routine, especially if you have children. But even if you do not have young ones or even if you live by yourself, a certain amount of structure and routine will be helpful. Bathe, brush your teeth, get dressed, and comb your hair. Go to bed and wake up at normal times. Eat regularly. In a time of uncertainty, schedules will give some certainty to daily life.
Vegetables and fruits – Eat healthy as often as possible. Hopefully, your grocery stores are still able to provide you with healthy options, especially fruits and veggies. We do not want to come out of this gaining the Pandemic 15, and that is quite possible, if we do not eat well. Additionally, healthy eating enhances your immune system.
Involve yourself in fun – Do some fun things. Play games, put puzzles together, FaceTime friends and family, paint a picture, watch movies, listen to music, participate in virtual Bible studies/church, do a home project, read a book, or plant a garden. The list is endless, just do something fun on a fairly regular basis.
Vacation at home – We have heard and often yearned for “stay-cations,” and now we have our chance to do just that. Camp out in the back yard, make s’mores, star-gaze, build blanket forts, play flashlight tag, or sing songs around a firepit – there are many opportunities to make staying at home fun for all ages.
Anxiety reduction techniques – Use techniques, such as the deep breathing mentioned above, along with pleasant imagery (visualizing yourself in your happy place), yoga, journaling, talking about your thoughts/feelings, and prayer. Healthy distractions also help reduce anxiety.
Less is more – During this time, less can be more. This is a unique time for all of us. To expect to be able to do everything you were doing is not only unrealistic, but also not possible in many instances due to quarantine restrictions, social distancing, and financial limitations. So, give yourself and others grace, and adjust your expectations to fit the times.
Gratitude – Remember what you have and what you can do and focus on that versus focusing on what you do not have or what you cannot do. Perspective can be everything. A grateful/thankful heart tends to be a happy heart. (1 Thes. 5:18)
Undertake long-awaited projects – We all have those projects we have been putting off because we did not have the time to start and/or finish these. Now is the perfect opportunity to get those done, whether it is cleaning, decluttering, organizing, building, creating, repurposing, or beautifying. A sense of accomplishment will feel good.
Invest – While it may be a risky time to invest financially, it is a great time to invest in relationships. Take time to draw near to God and invest time in your spiritual walk with Him. (James 4:8) Also, invest in personal relationships with family and friends. Even though you may not be able to see your people in person, you can talk on the phone or see them virtually. This is a great time to reconnect with loved ones.
Do your part – Think of others and do your part in minimizing the spread of COVID-19. Stay home as much as possible, using the above coping techniques to minimize the stress this may cause. When you do go out, wear your mask, practice social distancing, and do not go out if you are not feeling well. Wash your hands and sanitize.
Encourage others – Use your words and acts of kindness to encourage others. (1 Thes. 5:11) With God’s help, we will get through this together and we can be stronger as a result. If there were ever a time people needed encouragement, it is now.
Given the rapid changing conditions we are experiencing with COVID-19 and the resulting effects of this, some of the above material may be more applicable to some than others. By the time this article is published, geographic locations, the peaks and curve of COVID-19, and medical advancements will play a part in the usefulness of this pandemic survival guide.
Angie Witman is a Licensed Clinical Psychotherapist and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has worked as an outpatient clinician for nearly 29 years, with the last 22 years being with Meier Clinics. Angie works in Northwest Kansas in Goodland and Colby. She is married to a high school teacher/coach, and they have a daughter, son, and daughter-in-law. Angie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, sitting on their patio by their backyard pond, scrapbooking/crafting, and playing with their dogs and cats. She plans on heading to the mountains as soon as this pandemic is over.