By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
The current crisis in our world has captured our attention, changed our daily lives, and if we are not careful can consume all of our thoughts. We are being inundated with endless strings of bad news.
Stories of sickness, death, overwhelmed healthcare workers, fear, job loss, and the list goes on. While we should stay engaged, informed, and follow the guidelines the officials have implemented to keep us safe and curb the spread of this virus, we also need to be proactive about taking care of our mental health.
Not only is the never-ending news cycle overwhelming but this new normal of nonstop togetherness can become difficult for parents and caretakers.
While it’s a chance to make memories and grow closer to our immediate families, it also can be challenging to not have a break from caring for our kids or loved ones.
I am a homeschooling stay-at-home Mom. Our family was blessed with a lot of togetherness prior to this outbreak. This new normal of never leaving our home has made it harder to strike a balance between being Mom and having a chance to relax and unwind.
I relied on morning time at the gym, meet-ups with friends, Bible studies, my kids planned activities, and Date Night out to take care of myself as a full-time parent. It’s been a real challenge to re-define self-care without the outlets that I previously had made a part of my day to be my best parenting self.
So, what can we practically do to avoid “compassion fatigue” that comes with the heavy news of what our world is currently facing and avoid burnout as caretakers? Here are some ideas to get you started.
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1. Fast to Help You Keep Your Focus on Jesus
Isaiah 58:6 says, ““Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”
This verse has been on repeat in my heart and mind over the past few unsettling weeks. What do we do when we face an invisible and seemingly impossibly powerful enemy? We fast and pray!
These are the tools God has given us to help stem the tide of destruction this evil virus is bringing and has the potential to bring to our world.
Fasting may seem like a strange practice when we are all being forced to fast from our normal lives. We can’t see our friends, loved ones, or even go to the store in the ways we are accustomed to!
Yet, I think there is value in choosing to set aside a time of day, to fast for a meal, or abstain from media in an effort to remind yourself to focus your heart and mind on the Lord.
It is essential that now more than ever we acknowledge that God is in control of our world!
Acts 17:28 beautifully reminds us that it is in Him that we live and move and have our being. We don’t have to carry the weight of the fate of our world or of our loved ones or have all the patience for our kids or enjoy every moment we are stuck at home because those are God’s burdens to take on for us.
Fasting is a simple way to daily bring all those cares that we like to think somehow depend on us and our abilities to Jesus.
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2. Limit Your Media Usage
I am so guilty of reading every article posted on the internet that has to do with the Coronavirus in an effort to wrap my head around what we are all living through right now.
Many times I’ve had my good day turn bad not because of the actual circumstances in my home but because I read a dim prediction about the future of this pandemic. Psalm 33:20-22 makes it clear that our hope is found in Jesus alone! Not in the predictions that leaders and new outlets feed to us.
When we are looking at the headlines for our hope, we will be disappointed time and time again (even before the world was facing a pandemic). To protect ourselves from allowing our emotions to be constantly at the mercy of the news cycle, we have to implement limitations on how much media we allow ourselves to consume.
In the current climate in which our world is filled with speculation and misinformation, it’s probably in our best interest to choose media outlets you believe to be reputable and stick to them as your source of information.
Although there are seemingly limitless amounts of news stories to consume, that does not mean that we are limitless creatures. There is only so much bad news about other people we can take before it starts to take a toll on us.
Set clear boundaries for yourself about when, and for how long, you will expose yourself to the news. You definitely want to consider staying away from the news channel or the internet close to bedtime—not only does the blue light from technology disrupt your sleep cycles, the news can cause anxiety that will keep you up with no buffer time to process and pray about it.
Ask your family members to help keep you accountable, and remember that your hope is always ultimately in God.
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3. Find Simple Ways to Help Others
So much of the suffering that our world is experiencing feels very outside our control! What can we do to help other than stay home and watch too much Netflix?
Empower yourself by selecting simple ways to show those in your community that you are thinking of them. Every small gesture of kindness makes a huge impact, when we all commit to doing our small part in taking care of those we know.
A few ideas to get you started include the following:
- Make cookies for your elderly neighbors
- Write cards for the loved ones or friends you can’t physically visit
- Set up virtual hangouts to ensure the people in your circle aren’t feeling too isolated
- Make cards for those in the nursing homes around you that can’t receive visitors
- Offer to get groceries/supplies and drop them off at someone you know that is in a “high risk” category
- Check in with local schools/food banks to see what help they may need in order to supply meals for the most vulnerable
-Create care packs for Foster Parents that suddenly have lost all the traditional support they have to help support the children they care for
-Make a prayer list and let everyone on the list know that you are lifting them up in prayer daily
Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Choose something that feels doable and commit to that one thing.
Let that be your way of showing compassion to your world. The next time that voice creeps in your head and tells you that you're not doing enough and the world is going to end, remind yourself that you are doing your part (which is all you can do anyway). This is a great way to quiet the voice of fear and powerlessness that wants to haunt us all through this dark time.
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4. Re-Define Self-Care in This Season
For most parents of young kids, it’s pretty safe to say they relied on time away to help keep us sane through these intense years. For the next few months, we are going to have to re-define what self-care looks like!
We have the chance to make some beautiful memories with our families now that our schedules are clear for the foreseeable future but on the flip side, all this togetherness can push our buttons in new ways too.
Recognize that you are not an endless reservoir of patience and kindness.
“Savoring the moment” doesn’t mean you don’t need boundaries in your home. As a young mom, I would get so overwhelmed by the idea I was missing things, I could tangibly feel time slipping away.
I hated my fatigue and desire for space because I saw them as barriers to me “making the most” of each day given with my kids. Many of us may feel that same kind of pressure in this season. It does feel like a once in a lifetime opportunity to lean into your home life but the perspective I needed as a young mom applies to now.
Savoring the moment comes best when we acknowledge our limits and to our best to care for ourselves so the moments we have together are rich and full of life.
No one who is exhausted, anxious, burdened, or on-demand 24/7 has the power to enjoy the time they have been given. Look at your new very open schedule and think through times you can carve out for yourself or for your marriage.
Can you and your spouse trade-off in caring for the kids so you can fit in some exercise or time alone up in your room? Can you both stay up a little later together so you can fit in some “at-home date night” when the kids are in bed? Could fasting breakfast carve out time to read and pray before your day gets going?
Let this be a season where your home grows deep roots of connection with one another but don’t feel bad if there are times when you have to send the kids to their room for quiet time or you need to take a few laps around the neighborhood on your own. You need time and space to recover and also process what has happened to our lives so suddenly over the past few weeks. Once you’ve recharged, get back in there and make those memories that will be the shining light when you look back on this dark time.
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5. Get Moving
Are you baking something new every day or making chocolates a dietary staple? Being stuck at home can lead to some less than healthy habits. Showering feels a little less necessary. I really wish I only owned Yoga pants at this point in my life. The motivation to do things that keep you healthy and your days organized can wane.
We need ways to deal with the added anxiety that all this chaos brings into our lives. While we can’t go to the gym, we are lucky in that the weather is just right to get outside to walk, run, or bike. Exercise is a powerful way to “work out” some of the pent-up emotions we are all struggling to process. It also helps to balance out the effects of the chocolate.
Add a YouTube workout to your regimen or plan daily family walks. Several streaming workout platforms are offering free trials such as the Daily Burn or Crunch Live so you can give them a try without losing cash.
Don’t let the feeling of being overwhelmed in this moment fester, work it out both through prayer but also by moving your body.
More than anything, we have to surrender to the idea that we are not in control of our lives. The media wants to tell us that we somehow can control our fate, or even that if this illness spreads it's completely our fault.
While we play a part in keeping each other safe, nothing is happening in our world that God doesn’t first know about.
We can find respite in the knowledge that God is loving and that we have a heavenly hope. When our world feels insecure it’s a great chance for us to recognize that we need God.
We can repent for trusting in our well-thought-out-plans and allow God to grow a stronger faith through this hardship. God does not waste our suffering, He uses it.
Ask Him how he wants to use this season of upheaval to grow your faith in Him.
Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for the Daily Bible Devotions App, she has work published with Her View from Home, also for the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. You can find out more about Amanda on her blog or follow her on Instagram.
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