As the leaves slowly fade from green to orange, we’re reminded once again of what autumn signifies: a time to harvest what we have sown, a time to reflect, and a time of change.
Change. 2020 has indeed been the year of change. Business, schools—society as a whole has changed. The status quo is now different. School looks different. Working from home is here to stay.
And while change can be a good thing, too much change all at once can take a toll on your mental health—which explains why anxiety and depression rates are at a “staggering” high.
To live in a world where change is constantly disrupting your life can be heartbreaking. There’s a common saying that the only constant thing is change, but this sentiment doesn’t account for the unwavering love and presence of God.
So how does someone move forward in these trying times? Faith in God and the blessing of modern mental healthcare can help one through tough times.
Finding Your Faith in the Time of a Global Pandemic
It’s hard to read the news without feeling worry and fear start to trickle through your mind. You might even feel tempted to avoid all media and news, but avoidance is only a short-term solution.
Instead, confront life (and all that it entails) by strengthening first your faith in God.
1.Look for God
God is present to you—even in the middle of a crisis. You just have to look.
Remember that God isn’t just in your Church dwelling. Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Mt. 18:20).
You can find God in your community, in his people, and through the actions of others. Christ is the Great Physician, so don’t hesitate to look for him in all of those on the front lines, including your mental health care provider.
2. Be a Vessel for Others
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
God often uses others to answer our prayers. Be that vessel for others.
- Delivering food to those who are homebound or self-isolating for the long-term
- Offering to get groceries or run errands for those who are high-risk of severe complications from a COVID-19 infection
- Be present and simply be a beacon of light (sharing wholesome conversations, listening, etc.)
- Asking what you can do to help another
Your act of kindness may ignite the sparks of faith in another person.
3. Look to the Saints
The wisdom of the Saints can serve as another source of motivation.
As Saint Augustine said, “Bad times, hard times—this is what people keep saying: but let us live well and times shall be good. We are the times. Such as we are, such are the times.” We are not defined by these hard times. We are not defined by a pandemic. We are children of God, and we can still find joy and peace in the small things in our lives.
Here is another gem: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayers.” Saint Padre Pio literally tells us not to worry because worrying is useless.
But how do you cast aside the worrying? I know firsthand that worrying can be hard to cast aside. Thankfully, modern psychology can bridge the gap and supply us with more tools we need to cast aside the worrisome thoughts.
Finding Peace through Mental Health Care
Child psychiatrist Dr. Alphonso Nichols weighs in on the topic of anxiety:
“Anxiety is contagious. The more anxious we parents are, the more anxious our children will be. It is important to teach our children resilience.”
Resilience is the key to doing as St. Padre Pio instructs us; resilience is the key to casting aside worry. Foster resilience in yourself and your children by:
- Calling out your feelings. If you’re feeling short-tempered with your family (perhaps after reading another news article), call out your feelings. This is the fear talking.
- Practicing meditation. Just one meditation session can decrease feelings of anxiety and reduce stress, according to a 2018 study published in Experimental Biology.
- Setting realistic goals. Be kind to yourself during this time.
- Knowing the facts and focus only on the facts. Do not give in to fanciful imaginations of what “could” happen. Focus on reality.
Anxiety rates are at an all-time high, but there are glimmers of hope to be found. Searching for and focusing on these bright spots further instills a sense of resiliency.
Dr. Brian Briscoe, the medical director of adult programs at Next Step, explains that the biology of your brain helps you to focus on the positives. He shares:
For the most part, memory tends to select out the more positive memories (with the exception of trauma), but for the most part, our memories tend to select the more positive memories from the past. So looking back, 10 years from now, 5 years from now, what we’ll remember is those peaceful moments we had for reflection, the peaceful moments that we had with our family. Maybe that’s time playing a board game, or taking a walk with a child, or taking a hike in the woods. Those are things you’re going to remember. I encourage everyone to step back and think about what’s most important and decide – coming out of this – what are things, we’re going to change moving forward. What are the things we’ll do differently? Where will we invest our time? So that when all this passes, we’ll be spending our time in the areas that have lasting purpose.
The Blessings of Modern Mental Healthcare
Sometimes, despite our best efforts to quell the rising tide of anxiety, we need the help of modern mental healthcare. Receiving medication or therapy isn’t a failure, and it doesn’t mean God isn’t present in your life. God can ease your mind in many ways, and one of those ways is through the person of your psychiatrist or psychologist. Remember, be a vessel for others!
The only way to truly combat the anxiety-riddled pandemic is with an ultimate fusion of faith and modern medicine.