Awareness & Prevention of Emotional Pain during this Crises

During one of my visits to a local supermarket, an older woman stopped me and asked for help to reach an item clearly out of her physical reach on the third shelf. Upon retrieving the item and placing it into her cart, I asked her how she had been dealing with all the COVID changes and did she have someone to talk to? She smiled and shared that she and her kittens were doing okay and she spoke weekly to her two daughters living in Phoenix. I suspected she frequently shopped to reduce her sense of isolation but I encouraged her to share her story so I could hear her perspective. As a nurse and a Christian, my beliefs are rooted in the notion that we are God’s created beings with His spiritual likeness so each of us has worth and value. I wanted her to know that she mattered and her story had valued to me as a person. She reached closure and our conversation ended with her allowing me to pray for God to bless her health and grant her continued comforting joy.

I believe she and I had different journeys that day. This encounter made me re-consider the adverse impacts this COVID-19 pandemic has had upon our emotional, mental and spiritual health. People and communities are experiencing increased evictions and unemployment rates, physical isolation, marital distress, abuse of children, partners and elders along with disrupted daily social routines. Couple all of this with possibly living with COVID-19 disease and its disabilities or perhaps dying from its risk complications. Some of you are probably asking yourselves these questions? When will these overlapping stressors be resolved? Will my coping strategies successfully sustain me? How much longer will this pandemic go on? What can we do?

Natural responses to unknown situations like this viral pandemic produces varying degrees of stress, anxiety and fear depending on the person’s background, previous responses to similar events and other factors like sense of hope and having support systems. Feeling anxious or overwhelmed or facing the loss of control in maintaining housing or employment or having a sense of dread or defensiveness is initially expected as our bodies respond to the unforeseen crisis or threat. However, ongoing and unrelenting stressors coupled with emotional pain can deplete our body’s ability to manage stress, fight infections or stop the onset of hopelessness or despair. “The likely adverse effects of the pandemic on people with mental illness, and on population mental health in general, might be exacerbated by fear, self-isolation, and physical distancing. Suicide risk might be increased because of stigma towards individuals with COVID-19 and their families.” (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30171-1/fulltext)

How can we support one another during this time of unpredictability and dynamic change? Learn about the various reactions individuals display when dealing with emotional pain like thinking about suicide or self-harm, engaging in risky behaviors or isolating from support systems. How can we ALL play a role in helping one another to bear our emotional burdens? Stay socially & virtually connected while practicing physical distancing!

Coping strategies and social support might look like (1) connecting with friends and loved ones, (2) using virtual chat tools and platforms, (3) talking about your experiences, feelings and thoughts with a trusted person, (4) developing an updated daily “routine”, (5) limiting negative or traumatic stories and images from social, news and print media, (6) exercising regularly and staying active, (7) following a healthy eating and sleep plan and (8) staying spiritually engaged by reading your Bible, praying, attending “safely conducted” worship programs, etc. (https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/current-events/supporting-your-emotional-well-being-during-the-covid-19-outbreak/)

Some warning signs about suicide, self-injury or self-harm are:

(1) Talking about: (a) wanting to die, (b) wanting to kill themselves, (c) feeling empty or hopeless, (d) having no reason to live, (e) great guilt or shame, (f) feeling trapped or (g) feeling like there aren’t any solutions.

Learn more about suicide prevention and awareness – GET HELP!   
For the warning signs of suicide/self-harm, visit:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml#part_153177


ESV Scripture – Isaiah 41:10 – “…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Prayer: Dear Abba Father, help those struggling with thoughts of suicide and self-harm or injury; blanket their minds and spirits with your perfect peace. Remove the heaviness weighing down their souls, the darkness blocking the light of Christ and the despair wrestling with the Holy Comforter. Pierce uneasiness, hopelessness and gloom with your soul-refreshing hope. Speak into the lives of those needing your fresh anointing and blessings. Remind them as new creations that Jesus defeated death giving us new life and triumph by way of the cross for those who know him. We thank God for His joy that comes in the morning. Amen