Supporting Our Human Experience
By Lindsey Ervin
Pandemics may be new to our lifetimes, but they are not unprecedented for believers throughout history. What is unique and new to us is our ability to go about our daily lives, work, and school in the context of social distancing. It’s good for our mental health for us to acknowledge the reality that we are living and learning remotely in the context of a pandemic.
Why does context matter?
We are holding the tension of the times in the same hands as our work. If it feels like it is too much to hold all at once, it’s because it is. Your hands (and minds) were already full. We are now managing a whole other set of stressors in addition to whatever was already stressful for you or your family.
We are “embodied beings”, just as Jesus was, and we do not experience anything outside of our human bodies. So as human beings, social distancing is a major “disruption” to our body’s systems. It isn’t a wonder we might be feeling a bit disoriented, frustrated, have low energy or fatigue. What our body “reads” for us every day, our thinking mind now must process.
It seems that life has slowed way down, but it hasn’t really. Technology has allowed us to not skip a beat, which means that your mind and body have been on overdrive for weeks. Now more than ever, you need good self-care and rest for your body and soul.
As Christians, there is something to be said for acknowledging our humanness in all of this. We are experiencing something we have never experienced before, and it is hard. It is exhausting and although we are resilient, it is good to speak the truth – social distancing hurts on many levels. In fact, there are physical and psychological realities we must face, and we are wise to acknowledge them.
Resilience is created in rest, so I encourage you to pause and take a moment to reflect on what is going on and why we feel the way we do.
Physically – you may be experiencing more fatigue.
Dr. Curt Thompson tells us, “People are describing how much more exhausted they are at the end of their days compared to what their lives were like before three weeks ago. All of this highlights one element of what it truly means to be human that our encounter with the coronavirus has drawn our attention to: our bodies.” He offers some more great, practical tips on his blog.
Psychologically: you may be experiencing more irritability and anger due to increased levels of stress.
Parents and students alike may feel more emotionally drained. Here are some ideas to help you pay attention to your mental and emotional health.
- Communicate your needs
- Ask for help support, from friends and family members
- Use HALT as a way to self-regulate manage your stress – Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? Identify how you are feeling and then seek a healthy way to meet that need.
- Maintain a sense of community
- Reach out to a counselor for help if the stress is impacting your daily living (contact Mrs. Ervin for a referral.)
Take a Basic Needs Inventory:
- Do I have access to my basic needs or are they threatened? If not, do I know who I can ask for help?
- Reach out to Valor Helps if you are in need.
- Create some new “rhythms of renewal” to support your body, mind and soul – again basics are best – drink water, work out, eat healthy meals, get good sleep, identify your sources of stress.
Warning signs you need more support:
- Difficulty sleeping or being able to relax
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not eating
- Extreme mood swings
- Extreme sadness or anxiety
- Withdrawing from all sources of strength
For urgent and immediate support:
- Colorado Crisis Hotline – 1-844-493-8255, Text “TALK” to 38255
- Denver Springs – Walk in and teletherapy services for mental health and addiction concerns
- Concerned about a friend? Text Safe 2 Tell – 1-877-542-7233
Acknowledging our very human experience doesn’t make us less spiritually strong as we face adversity, it does quite the opposite. The apostle Paul writes that Jesus’ grace is sufficient for us, for His power is made perfect in weakness: Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-11)
My prayer for us is that in and through our shared human experiences during this season, our stories of strength will rise from a place of wholehearted, authentic living in God’s truth and grace.