In times like the Coronavirus pandemic, where the majority of the world is affected, we need a practical and spiritual guide to search and find solace with.
The COVID-19 pandemic has filled our lives with a growing list of unknowns: How long with the pandemic last? Will I get sick? Will one of my loved ones get infected? Will I lose my job? When will I be able to go back to work, see my relatives, and resume my daily activities? Living in a time of uncertainty is a scary place to be, and can leave you feeling out of control, hopeless and helpless.
During these trying times, however, it’s important to remember that it’s possible to find comfort in a world that feels so uncertain. We share our practical and spiritual tips on ways to cope not only during the current coronavirus pandemic, but in other difficult and unpredictable times.
Although easier said than done, learning to accept that you can’t control every situation in your life is a crucial step to navigating these (and other) uncertain times. Replace negative thoughts such as, “I can’t stand not being absolutely sure” or “I’m not going to be happy until I have the answers,” with realistic thoughts such as, “uncertainty is less than ideal, but I can accept it and tolerate it until this period of time passes.” Learning to accept uncertainty will not make your need for certainty disappear, but it will save you time and energy when you let go of trying to control the uncontrollable.
Instead of focusing on what you can’t do or don’t know, focus on what you can do and what you do know, which leads us to our next step.
Focus on what you can control
Although life as we know it has been temporarily turned upside down, try to focus on the aspects of your daily routine that you can still follow — or adapt your regular routine to fit your current situation. This includes working remotely from your home office (if possible); staying active by going for a run in your neighborhood or exercising in the comforts of your home; and creating — and sticking to — daily routines for your family by scheduling blocks of time for different activities (school activities or educational time, hobbies, play time, family activities, meals and bedtimes).
Don’t forget to pray!
Teach your children how to pray the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and other Catholic prayers.
Take advantage of this time at home to finally try that hobby you've wanted to explore, or tackle a project you never seem to have time for. Staying busy by accomplishing tasks such as organizing closets or your basement can be rewarding, while diverting your attention from anxious thoughts.
Focus on the near-term
Most important, focus on what you can do over the course of each 24 hours, rather than worrying about how you’ll get through tomorrow, the next day and the next month. As Matthew 6:25-34 says, “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they ... Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan or think ahead; Do your part to provide for your family and yourself and let God do His part. Anxiety over tomorrow’s concerns will only rob you of the strength for today. God is in control and in charge. The Bible tells us to Trust Him to provide for all our needs — and now is the time to do exactly that.
Avoid information overload
While it may be tempting to watch, read or listen to as much news on the pandemic as possible, mental health experts warn that this can keep us in an escalated state of anxiety. There’s a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed with information.
Pick a few trusted sources of information and set aside specific times when you're going to tune in (i.e., half an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening)
It’s important to realize that social distancing does not have to mean social isolation. Thanks to communication tools like Skype and smartphone apps like Facetime, there are a lot of ways to stay in touch with family and friends without having to leave your home. Even just a simple phone call can lift spirits.
Fork in the Road
Although you can’t control everything that happens in your life, you can control how you react. When times get tough, you have the opportunity to choose to either focus on the difficulties and negatives or to focus on the positives and potential. Turn this challenging, but temporary time, into an opportunity to discover your new strengths. Face each day with gratitude, to create the opportunity for the best thinking, actions and results to emerge.
According to Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, a recognized leader in entrepreneurial coaching, “Your body’s muscles always get stronger from working against resistance. The same is true for the ‘muscles’ in your mind, your spirit and your character.” Focus on everything you’re grateful for, communicate this, and open yourself each day to the best possible consequences.
Hold on tight to the word of God
As many Catholics find themselves unable to attend mass due to the coronavirus pandemic, bishops around the country are encouraging the faithful to participate in televised and livestreamed masses. The Church encourages frequent, even daily, Holy Communion, but if at any time we cannot go to Mass (such as during an illness or this mandated time of social distancing), we can still unite ourselves to the Eucharist by making an Act of Spiritual Communion.
By making an act of spiritual communion, you’re asking God in to come into your heart spiritually and to continue to fill you with the grace that you need to be sustained, even though you can’t receive Him in sacramental Communion.
Spiritual Communion Prayer
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Verses of the Bible
Finally, whenever your feel powerless in the face of this pandemic, place your trust in the one who is all-powerful and all-knowing — God. Find comfort and reassurance in the words and verses of the Bible; His words are soothing to our soul, calming to our spirits and give power to our days.
Here are a few examples of Bible verses to reflect on whenever you’re feeling afraid or lost — not only during this pandemic but during any difficult time in your life:
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)
"Tell everyone who is discouraged, be strong and don't be afraid! God is coming to your rescue..." (Isaiah 35:4)