Mental health suffers during a quarantine
Hello Reader. Wherever it is you’re reading from, it’s likely that right now you’re at some level of quarantine for Coronavirus. You might be under a full-fledged lockdown where you can’t leave your home, or you might have a somewhat looser voluntary self-quarantine. In that case, there’s no law stopping you from doing what you like, but there’s no reason to go out since everything is shut down anyway. If you’re lucky, you live somewhere with no quarantine of any kind, but if that’s your situation it’s a good idea to get ready for a possible one coming up.
The pain of a quarantine
An imposed quarantine, no matter what type it is, is mentally and emotionally stressful. First, because it’s so outside the norm and disruptive to everyday life. We don’t like disruption from the norm, even if it seems like no big deal at first. This extraordinary situation can trigger people’s anxiety the longer it goes on and things don’t revert to normal.
On top of this are other issues like ‘cabin fever,’ the suffering caused by the mental stress of being stuck at home for two weeks or more. Boredom is also a type of mental torment, like anxiety. And any personal issues you have with the people you live with can blow up since everyone is feeling the stress from being locked down.
My heart especially goes out to anyone feeling financial stress right now. Unexpectedly not being able to work for two weeks would be hard on anybody. I know many people are suffering from the stress of not knowing how they’ll pay bills or put food on the table. Meanwhile, small business owners are worried about their business.
Even those who can work now could be having anxiety. Everyone is quick to applaud the doctors and nurses at the front line of fighting this virus, but what about the delivery workers bringing people food right now? Every delivery they take they put themselves at risk too. What about the cashiers at the supermarkets (which are allowed to open in most places)? They’re like sitting ducks for the virus, interacting face-to-face with others all day and handling their cash.
To sum it up, a quarantine makes life painful in many ways. I don’t envy the officials in charge right now, because every decision they’re forced to make has consequences for someone. None of these choices are easy. Let’s all pray for wisdom for these leaders. Most of them seem to be choosing to focus on public health above economic concerns, which I agree with.
Stress is always building during an emergency
Stress builds up when living through an emergency situation like this. You might not even realize it, but yes, your stress is building up. Every person has a stress limit and they will hit it, no matter how mentally strong they are. Of course, that includes you and me. And when people hit their limit all kinds of bad things can happen. They might have a breakdown, become violent, or possibly even commit suicide out of despair. It’s true. There are many possibilities for tragic outcomes.
No one wants to live under quarantine; it’s a burden on everybody. That’s why now it’s vital we come together to help each other get through this mentally, emotionally, and otherwise. We have to help bear each other’s burdens right now, for everyone’s sake. Scripture even demands it of us as Christians:
Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2, CEB)
Sharing the load
So how can we do that? We need to talk to each other. We need to ask those in our lives how they’re doing, and we need to listen. Give people a chance to gripe, to complain about how difficult this situation is. We can’t do anything to lift a quarantine order, we can’t magically make things better. But we can listen. When a person has a chance to honestly vent, it actually does improve their mood and reduce stress. So we all need to listen and allow venting, as well as to support and encourage each other in this difficult time.
Luckily we have the modern tools of communication at our disposal. We can communicate with our loved ones even if one or the other party can’t leave the house! Although it’s not ideal, we can still support and encourage each other remotely. This is something to be thankful for. And we should use technology to play games with each other too, for fighting boredom. Excessive boredom adds to the stress and is a mental torment itself, as I mentioned. Games create an opportunity for more lighthearted communication, which is important during times of emergency. It’s important to help everyone keep their mood as high as they can.
Make sure that the listening goes two ways! Again, everyone has a stress limit and they will hit it, no matter how strong they are. So if you’re not being given an equal chance to talk and vent, then you’re adding to your stress by taking on other people’s worries without relieving your own. Don’t do that. If you never have an equal chance to say what’s on your mind, it’s a toxic situation. You will need to vent to someone or find some other way to get relief. If you hit your stress limit and have a breakdown because you couldn’t relieve your own stress, then you can’t help anyone else. Two weeks of quarantine is a long time, so this is important.
God is in control
Though two weeks of this may be a long time, don’t forget that “This too shall pass.” That phrase doesn’t actually come from the Bible, though many people think so. Every day of quarantine or lockdown you get through puts you one day closer to the end of all this. And there will be an end to this.
Take comfort in the fact that God is in control. Nothing happens in this world unless He causes it or allows it. And when tragedy strikes, know that God will take the bad and turn it to good, for His glory. He turns weeping to joy.
You changed my mourning into dancing. You took off my funeral clothes and dressed me up in joy (Psalms 30:11, CEB)
We can’t see the end of this Coronavirus situation from our human perspective. But God can see the bigger picture that we can’t see. He makes everything happen for a reason. So I will wait faithfully under my lockdown to see how this ends up. I will trust in God and not worry.
What good is worrying?
Preparation and precautions are good, but worrying is never helpful. This situation is out of our control, so how will worrying help? I do think it’s a natural human tendency to be anxious and worry during an emergency. And in the case of a virus, it’s not a danger you can see, hear, or smell, yet it can still harm you nonetheless. But worrying won’t change this situation one bit.
Worrying won’t do anything but add to the misery of the ordeal, and make it unnecessarily harder to bear. It’s easier to accept that we have no control here, take the wisest precautions, and trust in God 100%. Focus on what you have control over, and let God take care of the rest. Jesus said a lot about worrying in Matthew 6; check out that chapter.
Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34, CEB)
Keep calm and pray
Prayer is something we as Christians can use at any time. When our natural human tendency to worry overcomes our logic, we can pray to the LORD for relief. We can open up that line of communication whenever we need to. Prayer is one of the most important things we can do during this time, and it’s a great stress reliever too. When we feel anxious, that’s when we pray. Throw all your anxiety on God, because He can take it all and He wants to do that for us. Never forget what it says in Philippians 4:
Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7, CEB)
If you’re having a hard time during your lockdown/quarantine, God sees you and what you’re going through. He is always ready to listen and help you if you call on Him. Pour out all your fears to Him, and receive that peace of God for relief. Prayer will be one of our greatest sources of comfort for the duration of the quarantine — if we do it in a group that’s even better! That would probably happen over the internet for now though since church gatherings will likely be canceled. On that note, prayer and group prayer will be a way to keep engaged with our faith now without being able to go to church.
God is always good
God is always good. We can’t focus on a bad situation we’re going through now and forget about the ways that God has blessed our lives in the past. God gives us both good and bad, as Job said in Job 2:10. And when He gives us something bad, there’s a reason for it.
“[…] Will we receive good from God but not also receive bad?” (Job 2:10, CEB)
Events such as this virus are an unfortunate part of living in this imperfect, fallen world. But just like in the book of Job, God will take the bad out of a situation and turn it to good. We don’t see the end of the Coronavirus situation yet, but He does.
I pray that you, dear Reader, will have the easiest lockdown/quarantine possible. To get through it smoothly, we must remember to help each other bear our burdens. And none of us can be strong all the time — we must remember to relieve our own burdens too! And don’t forget to pray, that’s vital at a time like this.
But don’t worry or be anxious either. God is always in control. And if we have God and we have each other, then we have all we need. Everything will be alright.
This story is published in Koinonia — stories by Christians to encourage, entertain, and empower you in your faith, food, fitness, family, and fun.