How have you been coping with the changes brought about by COVID? As someone with a penchant for melancholy I knew that I was going to have to do something to keep from travelling down a negative spiral and stay positive and healthy. Early on I came across a facebook post with 6 questions to ask yourself in quarantine.
Shortly after March 24th (the day the world changed for us in BC) I bought myself a beautiful journal with the quote “Be still and know that I am God” on it to remind myself that God is here no matter what the circumstances. Also, beautiful stationary makes me happy. I altered the questions to meet my particular situation and needs and each night before bed I write the answers with my new set of colorful markers (…again…beautiful stationary.)
Here are the questions and why I chose them. I have distilled them into single word prompts to help remember each one. May they bless you as much as they have blessed me.
1. Celebrate. What am I grateful for today?
Gratitude is one of the fastest ways to change melancholy. While the negative and brokenness of the world is true, so also are the good, redeeming, “glimpse of hope” things and naming them does two things. It stops you from spiraling downward and gives you something to look back on. As they pile up day after day you start to realize that the good in the world can outweigh the brokenness and gives you hope.
2. Connect. Who did I connect with or check up on today?
The wording social distancing was introduced early on during the pandemic but it is not really what we need to be doing. Socializing is an important human need that may need some creative ways of doing right now but are crucial for our mental well being. Physical distancing is necessary but this question reminds me that if I haven’t talked to anyone but my dogs all day, maybe I need to pick up the phone, organize a zoom or go for an appropriately distanced coffee with a friend.
3. Release. What expectations do you have that you need to let go of today?
Expectation is a larger theme that God is working on with me this year but that’s for another blog post. In short we are having to let go of a lot. There is a grieving that goes with each “letting go” but that is a normal part of life. Naming it has helped me recognize why I am feeling a bit blue and allowing myself the grace to feel the negative emotions for a moment and then release them into God’s hands.
4. Behold. What did you see outside today?
Going outside has not been cancelled and has in fact been encouraged and increased. Naming what I see outside each day gives me a record of the fun things God is showing me through creation in the midst of everything.
5. Nurture. How did you move/care for your physical body today?
At first the temptation was to sit at home, binge watch Netflix and eat chocolate and I have to admit I did a lot of that. But after 10 extra pounds I realized quickly that this needed to stop. Physical exercise not only helps keep the pounds off it creates important serotonin hormones in your brain that help your mood. Also, the majority of serotonin is produced in your gut so what you eat can help your mood too.
6. Create. What beauty did you create, cultivate or invite in today?
Beauty comes in many forms. Some of my answers include painting, music and photography but they also included things like helping my children cope with the strangeness of this time, creating a beautiful, healthy meal and re-organizing my cupboards…all things of beauty in their own way.
7. Discover. What did you learn, explore or realize about God today?
As a Christian my desire is to know God better. This question helped me reflect on that relationship and encouraged me to get to know God in ways I might not have taken the time to do in my pre-COVID existence. Ways like contemplative prayer, reading allegories, daily bible readings on an app on my phone and zoom bible studies with friends.
8. Explore. What did you learn, explore or realize about yourself today?
Along with learning about God I find I always learn something about myself. This question allowed me to reflect on that.
9. Love. How did you love your neighbour today?
I have to admit this one is hard. Without being able to interact more closely with my neighbor I find it hard to know what to do fo them that will be helpful. But I keep this one one the list to remind myself of Jesus commandment to not only Love God with all my heart, mind and soul but to love my neighbour as myself.
10. Reflect. Describe the day in one word. It was a ______ day. (good, bad, frustrating, sad, happy etc.)
Summing up the day in one word is an interesting exercise but telling. At first the days were bad but as the days went on, I found that the wording was more positive and hopeful.
I recognize that this may not be helpful to everyone. Some are in much worse situations than I have experienced. If you are merely in survival mode and this may be more than you can muster. That’s OK. Hang in there, rest and know that you are loved. But for me, answering these questions has been a helpful way to navigate the very small ways that COVID has affected me and my family. I’d love to hear if they are helpful for you.