In this season of life many of us may be finding it difficult to stay optimistic and joyful. With the recent worldwide health concerns, loss of jobs, loss of income, social distancing, and a host of uncertainties, we may find ourselves resorting to hours of escapism through Netflix, or lost in time scrolling endlessly through our social media feeds, overeating in an effort to comfort ourselves, or even reverting to damaging habits that may lead to even more frustration. I know all too well what you are going through.With this COVID-19 pandemic the world seems to be in a rut. But, even though many of us are forced to stay indoors, here are a few things that we can all do (safely, of course) get out of that mental rut and break out of the blues:
1. TRANSFORM YOUR ATMOSPHERE
A simple change goes a long way. If you are stuck at home, try changing out your darker, wintery linens for lighter, brighter shades of color. If possible, bring the outside indoors with some low maintenance houseplants. These plants will help to purify the air in your space and bring an encouraging pop of color. To lighten your mood, try filling your oil diffuser with some citrus and mint essential oils. In addition, declutter as much as possible. Try reorganizing spaces within your house that seem to have taken on a life of their own. Purging will help you to think clearly and improve your mood. As you begin the reorganization process I would encourage you to pick out some of your favorite Bible verses and place them around your home. You may want to place these Scriptures on your refrigerator, on a bathroom mirror, the back of a door, or even in a frame by your bedside. The point is to have truth and beauty all around – to be reminded of God’s promises and goodness in spite of the circumstances. Take the time to transform your atmosphere – it will do wonders for your mood.
Send someone a positive text. Call someone. Check up on a loved one or friend. Find ways to be a light in darkness. Someone needs you.
2. CHANGE YOUR INPUT
While practicing social distancing, and choosing to stay home we may be tempted to binge-watch all our favorite shows. Scrolling through those television channels, and mindlessly watching one movie, or one reality show after another may initially seem to be the best cure for a rut. But here’s the thing, eventually after countless hours you may realize that you are still in that rut. Why? Because while you feasted with your eyes, you may have neglected to feed your spirit.
I remember a friend of mine would always spend her weekends binge-watching true crime and murder shows, and eventually she began wondering why she started to feel hopeless and on edge. Now, in retrospect, the reason was pretty obvious. The fact is, she was spending most of her free time focusing on darkness and hopelessness, and it was bound to have an effect.The seemingly harmless hours spent entertaining herself had more of an adverse effect on her psyche than she could have ever imagined. For you, it may not be true crime shows. Like me, you may enjoy passing the time watching romance movies, but regardless, while it may be a different genre, the outcome will be the same…a feeling of loneliness and discouragement. So…what have you been feeding your spirit during this time?
Give yourself a media makeover. Start with your playlist. Create praise and worship music playlists and play them often. Play them while you are preparing your meals, during your down time, while doing your at-home exercise routine – inundate your atmosphere with encouragement. In addition, exchange screen time for reading time. Instead of watching a show, spend time in God’s Word. A great trick is to move your social media apps to be the very last thing you need to scroll through on your phone and move the Bible, encouraging non-fiction ebooks, audiobooks and podcasts right up front so you are prompted to open those first. Change your input. Feed your spirit with the things that will keep you positive, filled with joy and expectancy.
Now, more than ever, we must believe God.
3. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS:
Yes, so much has changed, and life seems to be filled with uncertainties. Yes, you are facing some challenges, but change your focus. Mulling over your disappointments, or mentally beating yourself up, or even getting lost in daydreams about all of the possible things that could go wrong in the future will do nothing but keep you in a rut. Change your focus by shifting it from yourself to someone else. Instead of entertaining a pity party, focus on how you can serve someone else. I have found that one of the best ways to get out of my own head (so-to-speak) is to focus on blessing others.
During this time many are forced to self-quarantine, and so some encouragement goes a long way. Send someone a positive text. Call someone. Check up on a loved one or friend. Find ways to be a light in darkness. Someone needs you. There may be some restrictions in place, but there is still something that you can do be bring hope to the hopeless. The beautiful thing about serving others is that not only are you expressing God’s character of love, but in the process of serving you also are blessed and transformed. If we set our focus on our Father’s business, we can rest assured that He is working out our business in ways that will exceed our imagination. Change your focus and eventually you will be out of that rut.
All the suggestions provided really points to the same solution – getting out of our own way and focusing on God. Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and that all things would be added unto us. That “all” is peace, joy, contentment and true love. Now, more than ever, we must believe God. Time spent with God, in His Word, in worship and in service to others are not just things that we do to be “good Christians”, they are how we live more like our Creator, in whose image we were created. They are how we get more in touch with what matters eternally. They are where we get the strength and guidance to get out and stay out of that rut.
A Quick Note: It’s important to note that sometimes we need professional help. These are challenging times and mental illness is real. You need not be ashamed. If you are having a really hard time coping and need more help, please seek it!
Lydia Lucas is a Vine Author, Jesus lover, wife, mother, minister and coffee lover.
If we set our focus on our Father’s business, we can rest assured that He is working out our business in ways that will exceed our imagination.