The hardest person on the planet to manage is you. That’s right you. Many people can manage great companies while failing miserably at managing their own life. You are the only one who can manage your life, so you need to manage it well.
In my conversations with people, especially during COVID, I have often heard certain words repeated over and over. Words like: exhausted, stressed, anxiety, tired, anxious, isolated, and depressed. The people who use these words are from all ages and stages of life.
Surveys show a major increase in the number of U.S. adults who report symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic, compared with surveys before the pandemic. Some people have increased their use of alcohol or drugs, thinking that can help them cope with their fears about the pandemic.
(https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/mental-health-covid-19/art-20482731, accessed 21 December 2020)
The Mental Health Association reported that in May and June of 2020 anxiety screenings were 406% greater than in January of the same year, while screenings for depression were 457% greater. A six-fold increase was noted for those considering suicide or “self-harm.”
(https://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2020/11000/Mental_Health_Effects_of_COVID_19.5.aspx, accessed 21 December 2020)
I understand what it feels like to have stress. At one point in my life, I was so stressed that I had to wear a mouth guard because I was grinding teeth at night.
In my experience, there are a handful of key practices that will help you manage your emotional health during these difficult times.
First, remember that this is a season and it will pass. King Solomon was incredibly wise. He writes: “1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There are two types of time, Chronos time and Kairos time. Chronos time refers to clock and calendar time. There are 24 hours in every day and seven days in every week. That is clock and calendar time. Kairos time refers to seasons. Think of it like seasons of the year or seasons of life. For example, there is a time to be single and a time to be married (if you choose). There is a season when you may have young children and a season when you parent adult children. COVID is a season and this season will pass. You will be the happiest and most fulfilled in life when you learn how to embrace both types of time.
Second, stay connected to God because it will help you stay emotionally grounded. When I feel connected to God, the rest of my life feels manageable. When I feel God’s love and open to the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings, my quality of life goes up. This shouldn’t be a surprise since Jesus says: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Third, invest in life-giving relationships. If you feel loved and like you are able to give love, you are more likely to feel emotionally healthy. Not every family relationship is healthy to maintain. Sometimes it is healthier to end or pause a relationship, even with a family member, rather than to try to fix it.
Everyone needs a refrigerator friend. This is the friend who is so comfortable around you that when they are in your house, they go in your fridge to get what they want. If you don’t have someone in your life like this, ask God to bring the right person into your life, He will.
And finally, take time to have some fun. What do you like to do for fun? Do you like to watch movies, bike, or cook? Find something to do that fills your fun-bucket in this season of life and do it.
God wants you to be emotionally healthy. Getting emotionally healthy isn’t just a one-time decision, it’s a lifestyle. Right now, your emotional health is more important than ever and only you can manage it, so manage it well.