Hope For Tomorrow Counseling

Coping with Covid-19

Jennifer Owen, MA, LPC,NCC

As I am sure you are aware, society as we know it has been derailed by the ominous COVID-19 (the coronavirus). Nasaying thoughts have developed into persisting fears and anxieties for many people around the world. Schools, businesses, events, and even entire cities have been shut down due to this pandemic. Constantly hearing a whirlwind of information regarding the state of the virus can be incredibly unnerving. Anxiousness and fear have become the new norm for many. Some have used humor in order to cope (I’ll admit that I have enjoyed the occasional meme) while others have religiously watched the news (or social media) to stay informed on the most recent updates. While I am sure that you have heard and read a variety of opinions on the subject at this point, there are a few important coping strategies to keep in mind in order to help diminish fear/anxiety and thrive in peace. 

In an effort to help you remember these coping strategies, I have used the acronym COVID-19 (see what I did there) 😉. 

C- Cut Off Social Media/The News

This coping strategy may be fairly obvious at this point; however, how many of us are actually practicing this? We joke about cutting off social media yet you probably found this blog while scrolling through facebook (Does anyone feel personally attacked right now?). We are being constantly bombarded with an overload of information about the coronavirus. Most of the time, this information is inaccurate, negative, and feeds into our worst fears. Be intentional to cut off social media and the news. Set aside a specific time to cut off your phone and the tv. Take that time as an opportunity to catch up on house chores, read, or even take advantage of many of the free programs/services that companies have offered online during this time. 

O- Offer Assistance

This pandemic provides for wonderful opportunities to help others in need. I recognize that we are limited in how we can assist others due to the need for social distancing; however, there are ways to help that don’t involve being in large groups. Help tutor children who are struggling to do school work from home (this can be done online if needed). Provide food/meals to those in need (many places still have drive-thru and delivery). If you have an abundance of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant spray; give it to those who don’t have any. Reach out to your friends with children and see how you can help babysit for parents that do not have the ability to work from home. If you see someone in financial hardship, offer to send them money. Above all, pray for the physical and mental health of our community and the world at large. 

V- “Visit” a Friend/Counselor

Please notice the quotation marks around the word visit. I recognize that social distancing is the current recommendation. I am not suggesting that you have an in-person quarantine party. However, reaching out to friends and family during this time is a great way to ease anxiety. Working from home and/or being in quarantine can be incredibly difficult, especially for your extroverted friends or people who live on their own. Call, FaceTime, or text your friends/family to check up on them. Talk about something other than the coronavirus. Staying connected during this time can help combat not only anxiety and fear but also loneliness. 

In addition to talking with friends and family, talking with a counselor can help ease your mind about the current state of the virus. Many counseling agencies, (including Hope for Tomorrow) are ready and available to see clients. Some agencies are still taking clients in person. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a counseling office, telehealth is available. Feel free to call us (434-239-4949) or even another counseling agency in your area to discuss counseling options. 

I- “I” Time

I would use the term “me time” but that doesn’t go along with my acronym; therefore, I have changed it to “I” Time. This simply means to take time for yourself (i.e. self-care). This could include yoga, painting/coloring, binge watching your favorite show, going for a walk outside, playing with your pet, taking a hot shower/bath, listening to music, doing a puzzle, you name it! Now that we have to spend time at home, we might as well get into the habit of taking some time for ourselves. Find creative ways that help you to destress and practice them regularly. 

D- Dwell on Truth

As I had stated before, we have been bombarded with so much information lately; therefore, it is hard to differentiate what is fact or fiction. In regards to the current state of the coronavirus, the Center for Disease Control provides recent updates as well as helpful tips on how to keep yourself, your family, and others safe. 

Another source of truth that we can turn to is God’s Word. The Bible has a multitude to say about fear and anxiety. Meditate on these Bible verses. Memorize them. Share them with a friend. Allow the truth of God’s Word to become more present in your mind and see how your fears/anxieties turn into peace.

  • 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV): For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
  • Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV): Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you,Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
  • Joshua 1:9 (NKJV): Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
  • Matthew 6:27 (NIV): Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? (I suggest reading the entire passage of Matthew 6:25-34)
  • Psalm 94:19 (NIV): When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
  • Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  • John 14:27 (NIV): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
  • Colossians 3:15 (NIV): Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
  • Proverbs 12:25 (NIV): Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.
  • Psalm 56:3 (NIV): When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.

1- Learn 1 New Thing Each Day

With the time that you now have to spend at home, use that time to learn something new. Here are a few suggestions: learn a new word each day, learn a different language, learn to sew/knit/crochet, learn to draw, learn more about your family/culture/heritage, or learn how to cook a new meal (or just learn how to cook in general 😉). The possibilities are endless! Learning something new will take your mind off of the virus that you cannot control and focus it on something that you can control. 

9- List 9 Things That You Are Thankful For

Anxiety and fear often comes from dwelling on things that we do not have. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. A home, a job, your family, your friends, your health, etc. Specifically identify at least 9 things that you are thankful for and share that thanksgiving with someone else. Instead of fearing the unknown or being anxious about the future, let’s have peace and thankfulness for what we do have. 

I pray that this coping strategies acronym helps you to refocus your attention and efforts to a state of peace rather than anxiousness. Please know that you are not alone. This too shall pass. Remain prudent yet unafraid. Rely on your faith rather than your fears. We can get through this. Together. 

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