Yesterday The Today show featured a segment on the problem of pressure during the Coronavirus pandemic. It released the results of research by Mental Health America (MHA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) on the mental health of Americans during this crisis.
- 78% of adults said COVID-19 is a significant source of stress in their life.
- 2/3 said they were experiencing increased stress during the pandemic.
- Generation Z (born between 1997 and 2012) are more likely to feel lonely.
- More than 50% of kids 11-17 admitted they had thought of committing suicide.
- The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression during the pandemic has skyrocketed.
In another survey, which was a collaboration between researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, over 90% of those who responded reported “feeling increased worry, frustration, boredom or anxiety during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”
The health tips given by the APA for relieving stress and reducing anxiety among kids were:
- 15-30 minute breaks
- Take a walk
- Connect with friends
- Watch a funny video
For adults the experts advised:
- Connect with family and friends
- Focus on things going well.
These suggestions are no doubt helpful. Plus, there are obviously many people who would profit from some professional counseling to guide them through difficult mental and emotional challenges. Through the years I have recommended Christian counseling for those I believed it would help. Yet, the APA suggestions lack a spiritual component.
Humans are more than mental, physical, and emotional beings. We are created in the image of God and after His likeness (Gen. 1:27). Stephen Covey expressed it well when he wrote, “Wellness is defined today in the dimensions of mind, body, and spirit. Included in these dimensions are physical, mental, emotional, sexual, social, and spiritual health. We cannot have total wellness if we ignore any one of these dimensions.”
“The spiritual dimension is your center, your commitment to your value system. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to timeless truths of humanity.”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists web page offers this insight, “Spirituality often becomes more important in times of emotional stress, physical and mental illness, loss, bereavement, and the approach of death. All health care tries to relieve pain and to cure – but good health care tries to do more. Spirituality emphasizes the healing of the person, not just the disease.”
The benefits of religious values and beliefs are extolled by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). “Religion gives people something to believe in, provides a sense of structure, and typically offers a group of people to connect with over similar beliefs. These facets can have a large positive impact on mental health—research suggests that religiosity reduces suicide rates, alcoholism, and drug use.”
The NAMI web page lists numerous mental health benefits to religious structure and affiliation including connection with others, the means to cope with difficult situations, and moral guidelines to live by.
While Christians are not immune to stress or free from anxiety, we know what to do with it and where to turn in times of turmoil.
The Bible teaches that God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). In Christ, we enjoy “all spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3). Furthermore, Jesus promised to provide us life in all its fullness (Jn. 10:10).
So, as you experience pressure during this pandemic, we recommend these Biblical directives:
♦Pray. It’s the source of power (Phil. 4:6-7).
♦Read God’s Word. It’s a fountain of wisdom and a foundation of strength (Ps. 119).
♦Meditate. It’s an avenue of peace and connection with God (Ps. 119:15; Phil. 4:8)
♦Laugh. It’s good medicine for the soul (Prov. 17:22).
♦Think good thoughts. They will lift your spirits (Phil. 4:8).
♦Count your many blessings. It will change your perspective. (Eph. 1:3).
♦Trust in God’s providential care. It will take the focus off human solutions (Prov. 3:5).
♦Seek the fellowship of trusted believers. They will help bear your burdens (Gal. 6:2).
♦Put God and His Kingdom first. It will elevate your purpose in life (Matt. 6:33).
♦Live one day at a time. After all, today is all you have any way (Matt. 6:34).
Understandably, many folks require greater guidance, professional counsel, and more specific applications and exercises. However, for many Christians getting back to these Bible basics will go along away toward relieving anxiety.
Finally, the advice of Dr. Wayne Dyer is worth heeding. “You cannot always control what goes on outside, but you can always control what goes on inside.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman