Fr. Ed Dougherty, M.M.,
The Christophers’ Board of Directors
The crisis of Covid-19 has led to an increase in depression and anxiety among people in all spheres of society and there are steps we can and should take to combat this growing problem. Catholic Charities recognized this crisis early on and shared some practical advice on their website that serves as a great starting point in learning how to cope with these issues.
On Catholic Charities’ website, clinical psychologist Michael Horne advises that we start with basic everyday health measures to combat stress. He notes that anxiety and depression often prompt us to forget these basic needs, but they are vital in preventing a downward spiral. “Eat well, stay physically active, get a good night’s sleep,” Horne writes. “While this seems simplistic, sticking to these core points will improve health, strengthen the immune system, and are good for preventing anxiety and depression.”
These basic health concerns lead us to attend to the larger issues that Horne addresses, such as maintaining a routine, staying connected, and keeping up an active prayer life. Through his advice, we can see how interconnected our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing can be.
Routine is at the heart of maintaining balance in all of these key aspects of our lives. Routine is what turns our need to eat into a scheduled mealtime that brings people together for much needed human interaction. And routine is what reminds us to come together in prayer. These routines can exist for us even in trying times, such as a pandemic. We just have to be conscious of adhering to the routine and the need we all have to connect with one another. Especially during times of social distancing within society, we must draw closer to family in order to make sure our needs, and the needs of our loved ones, are met.
Writing for the Catholic Apostolate Center, Colleen Campbell highlights another crucial idea. She says, “Focusing on our mental health allows us to be stewards of God’s creation, specifically good stewards of the body that God has created and given to us. Though we are living in a time of panic and uncertainty, we have agency and the ability to take care of ourselves in a way that allows us to continue the hard work of bringing forth the Kingdom of God.”
As we take the time to attend to our own needs and the needs of those closest to us, we can also prepare ourselves to point others in the right direction to receive help for whatever is troubling them. When we hear about people in need, we should have answers for where they can get help, and we should be prepared to reach out within our own communities to make sure that help is offered.
We must also remember that the anxiety people manifest is often the result of a complex set of circumstances and sometimes the best way to relieve their anxiety is to address underlying problems. If we come across people who are anxious about finances and day to day survival, the best way to help alleviate that anxiety is to point them in the direction of those who can provide solutions to those financial difficulties.
So let’s remember that by attending to our own needs and the needs of our loved ones, we prepare ourselves to be a resource for others, which is ultimately the best way to take our minds off our own suffering and return to a life of joy.
For free copies of the Christopher News Note SEEKING GOD’S PEACE IN TROUBLED TIMES, write: The Christophers, 5 Hanover Square, New York, NY 10004; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org