I suspect that most folks thought life would have settled back into somewhat normal by now. Instead, COVID numbers are rising again, schools are already cancelling classes, and the chasm between differing opinions widens. The level of stress, for many, is through the roof. Add to that the hurricanes wreaking havoc and the humanitarian crisis happening in Haiti and Afghanistan. And then add challenges of a more personal nature—difficult family relationships, work-related stress, financial concerns, caring for senior parents or special needs children, infertility, infidelity, health challenges, and the list goes on.
Perhaps you can relate to the psalmist’s words: “And I say, ‘Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.’” (Psalm 55:6-8 ESV)
An escape sounds good, yes? Oh, to leave the craziness and heartache behind.
These chaotic times are causing depression and mental health issues in record numbers. I’m not a professional counselor or psychologist, but I understand the need for soul care to ensure our well-being amidst difficulties and uncertainty. Here are a few things we can do to protect our emotional health and maintain hope.
Turn off social media.
Sailor-Man and I just returned from a working vacation aboard our boat-home in Desolation Sound—a pristine, postcard-like area off British Columbia’s coast. Thankfully, we found a few spots with good cell coverage so we could work as needed. But on those days when we couldn’t connect, we just let it go. And guess what happened? Life went on.
So many voices clamor for our attention nowadays. So much intake leads to mental overload. Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to turn off social media and relish the silence.
Enjoy the outdoors.
Fresh air and exercise work wonders for the soul. So do moments spent rediscovering nature’s beauty.
A couple of times, Sailor-Man and I sat outside after dark and gazed at the stars. The Milky Way was clearly visible. So were planets, satellites, and shooting stars. The sight left me in awe and wonder of God’s greatness, and it left me feeling humbled that He is aware of my needs and wants to care for me.
I could totally relate to the psalmist when he looked at the night sky and wrote, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:4-5 ESV)
The same, mighty God who created the heavens and the earth loves us and holds us in His hands. Isn’t this incredible? This truth ought to bring us hope when life feels hard.
Connect with friends.
Our trip enabled us to connect with several long-time friends living in coastal communities. Visiting in person and hearing about their lives after not seeing them for several years brought me great joy.
Maintaining relationships is especially important during these days. Do what you can to stay in touch. If you can’t visit in person, then take advantage of technology to talk and pray together. Because God made us for relationship, that’s where we flourish best. We don’t have to navigate these days alone.
Stay in the Word.
Taking a vacation broke my routine in some ways, but I didn’t take a break from rising early to spend time in God’s Word. The older I get, the more I realize it’s my lifeline. My soul feels thirsty without it.
Now’s the time to develop the discipline of reading the Word on a daily basis if you haven’t already done so. But don’t read from a sense of obligation. Read from the perspective of being privileged to know the Author and with a hunger to hear from Him. His promises will guard your heart and mind from despair and fear in these crazy days.
Do something that brings joy.
On our getaway, I snapped pictures of flowers, critters, and scenic coves. I baked cinnamon buns and blueberry scones. I kayaked along the shorelines of wee islands. These activities gave me pleasure and refreshed my soul.
Perhaps you find pleasure in reading a good book, doing watercolor painting, riding a bike, taking a brisk walk, doing crafts with a grandchild, or trying a new recipe. Activities that bring joy needn’t cost a dime. Sometimes we overlook possibilities because they sound so simple. If they re-energize our soul, they count!
Soul care matters. If we’re in a healthy place, then we’re better able to help others who are struggling. So be good to yourself. Pay attention to your own needs and take practical steps to ensure you’re doing okay.
What’s one action you take to care for your soul in these difficult times?