Covid-19 and hope

As I write this article in March, 2020, it would be ludicrous to write about anything other than the coronavirus, Covid-19, which is besetting our nation and the world at this time.

For many, nothing else seems important but this disease and the havoc it’s wrought personally, emotionally, financially, universally.

As the ads keep saying, “We’re all in this together.”

That’s true. And we will all have to survive it in some way with our mental, financial, physical and emotional health intact. Many people have weighed in about how to do this, but I thought I would add my own thoughts, in the hope that you’re bored enough to read them and they might be of help to you. First some general tips about surviving during a pandemic and quarantine, and then a challenge …

  • Try to eliminate negative messages from your lives. Even though, on a certain level, we all need to know what’s going on, does it really matter to us on a day-to-day basis how many people have died and where? Do we really need to know what the governor of a state not our own says? It’s easy to get lost in negative messages that actually have little to do with our survival.

  • When possible, focus on others, and not just yourself. Are you outside of the “danger zone” and able to get groceries for an elderly neighbor? Could you call, email or voice chat someone who lives alone? At the very least, could you pray for those affected the most? Send them warm (virtual) thoughts?

  • Think about the positive things that could come out of this. I had a chance to talk to my cousin today — something I haven’t done in years. We were talking about how much we valued our family connection and that we were determined to consider that of the highest priority once this was over. Closer connections to those we love may be only the tip of the iceberg. There may be many positive things when the dust settles. Of course there will also be negative consequences, but why dwell on them?

  • Consider cutting back on social media, or blocking or silencing those you consider to have negative, offensive or unhelpful messages. Again, who needs that?

  • Pay attention to your self care. Try to find a routine, and don’t eliminate the things that were previously important to you, especially when those things are hygiene and good habits. At the moment I’m writing this, it’s gorgeous outside — a perfect early spring day — and in my neighborhood, lots of people are walking, together in family groups, with dogs, with kids on bikes. None of those things, with social distancing observed, is dangerous. All are healthy and life-affirming. Make sure you still take care of yourself by eating, sleeping, exercising, showering, occasionally dressing “up” — at least get out of the sweat pants or yoga pants occasionally. (Incidentally, as I write this, I’m wearing yoga pants. Go figure.)

  • If you are so inclined, now is a good time to begin good habits that will be anxiety-reducing, like Bible study or regular prayer. Meditation can also be helpful, as can calming activities like yoga and mindfulness activities.

And finally, a challenge. When I was a senior at Cedar Crest High School in Lebanon County, one of the local furniture stores gave all the graduating seniors a small cedar “hope chest,” I’m sure in the hopes we would go to the store and buy a big one of our own (very different times, folks, and what seems sexist now was actually exciting to us young women then). I valued mine, but lost track of it over time (it’s been a long time since 1978!). Just the other day I found it again — it was holding spare keys in a kitchen “hold all” cabinet. I emptied it, and I decided to make it my new “hope chest.”

So in this small cedar chest, I’m putting things I hope will be joy in the future. So far, here’s what I have:

Small hope chest with chocolates, shell, stuffed animal, Christmas bell near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, PA
  • Two Princess Cruises chocolates, saved from our February cruise. Sure looking forward to cruising again!

  • A small stuffed animal given me by a dear friend I normally see every week. I’m missing her tremendously.

  • A Christmas bell. We generally spend Christmas with our dear friends from Colorado. It’s always lovely. I hope it will be joyous this year too.

  • A sea shell. Even though this shell probably doesn’t come from Lewes, DE, still, that’s close to home for me and a place I always love to go.

My challenge to all of you is to find your own “hope chest.” Or box. Or bag. Or whatever. But something that you can put you hope into, even if just in slips of paper. Something that will ground you now, provide a source of anticipatory joy and hope, and be a gratitude box later on.

If you are struggling, we are still here to help. Sanctuary Christian Counseling is completely online beginning March 31, 2020, until it’s safe to do in-person therapy again. Give us a call at 717-200-3158 or email us at info@sanctuarychristiancounseling.com.

Be blessed, be safe and be well.

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