The June edition of The Central Minnesota Catholic features several articles about how people have responded to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus and its impacts — on health, the economy and social interactions — will affect us for the foreseeable future. Many of us will continue to work from home as much as possible and observe physical distancing guidelines. Some will stay at home and remain isolated out of an abundance of caution because their age or health condition puts them at added risk of becoming severely ill. Even as cities, businesses and church communities open up more widely, there is still anxiety about keeping ourselves and loved ones safe and healthy.
Stress, anxiety, isolation, depression, burnout: We’ve experienced some or all of these to some extent as a virus side effect. I’ve noticed more of my friends and connections on Facebook and Twitter confessing that they have been struggling with these issues. News articles report that anti-anxiety prescriptions have increased. Some people are responding in less-than-healthy ways: Alcohol sales have surged. Porn use is up. So are incidents of domestic violence.
You may have already found successful ways to cope with the added stress. For others, including myself, anxiety and burnout have slowly crept their way into daily life. Until recently, I hadn’t really addressed this in an intentional way.
For those looking for some tips, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice:
• Take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news stories, including on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
• Take care of your body. This includes eating well-balanced meals, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
• Make time to unwind with activities you enjoy.
• Connect with others, if not in person, then by phone, email, social media, text messaging or video chat. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
For people of faith, daily prayer also is a source of strength, hope and needed connection with God and one another. Many parishes in the diocese are livestreaming Masses and devotions, while also reaching out to parishioners in new and creative ways. Hopefully, parishes will continue these efforts even after larger public Masses resume in the diocese, particularly as a service to the most vulnerable and others who will be hesitant for a while to join public gatherings.
Much of this advice might seem like common sense, and it is. But it can be difficult to follow unless you schedule the necessary time and build it into your daily routine. We can get through this pandemic together if we take care of ourselves while we take care of others.
From the CDC: If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911. You may also contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (www.thehotline.org).