Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women
6 Tips for Restoring God’s Peace in the Midst of Coronavirus Panic
Bonnie GrayThe Faith Barista
I was chatting with a friend on the phone when I found out Northern California, where I live, had issued the strictest “shelter-in-place” order in the nation to combat the Coronavirus. I had taken a break from the news that afternoon, so I was caught off guard by the sudden change of events.
As I checked in with friends, I found out that grocery store shelves were empty and everyone was feeling the anxiety of uncertainty about an unseen threat whose reach was unknown.
In just a few weeks, our world has changed dramatically. COVID-19 has shut down huge cities and even major countries. Many of you might be reading this at home, unsure of when you’ll be going back to work or school. It is a time of uncertainty, but God does not want us to live in fear, even in such an unsettling time.
As people of promise and purpose, we can defuse panic and stress in our lives, as we walk through the realities of coronavirus.
To help, I compiled 4 truths and 6 soul care tips to anchor your soul to God’s peace and simple actions to encourage your heart. Not only do we need our body’s immunity to stay healthy, we need to boost our soul’s immunity against discouragement with God’s peace and promise.
1. I wasn’t anxious until I saw news of empty grocery shelves. How can I deal with my fear?
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Although people are panic buying, experts say there is enough food. So, as you see shelves intermittently bare, awaiting shipment to restock, remind yourself that scarcity is no match for God’s promise to sustain you one day at a time.
When Elijah was sent to the widow at Zarapeth with only enough flour and oil for one meal left, God miraculously replenished her supply, one meal at a time. Soak in God’s promise to supply all your needs. Take one day at a time. His mercies are new every morning.
Truth from Scripture to Meditate On:
“This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” - Philippians 4:19
The minute we stress is a special opportunity to invite Jesus into our day and be refreshed. A powerful, simple way is to pray a breath prayer. Studies show deep breathing really does help trigger your body to relax. This contemplative prayer practiced by the early church will help you experience God’s peace and presence.
Breathe in, inhale with God’s name. Open your heart to Him — Jesus. Breathe out, exhale your request or how you’re feeling. Let God touch you — Help me.
2. I can’t stop worrying. What are easy ways to restore calm and peace?
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When I first heard the term “shelter-in-place”, it immediately reminded me that God is our refuge. Give yourself permission to put your worries to the side for the moment and do things that bring you joy, exercise, and rejuvenation.
While following safety guidelines to stay home to help our country and the immunity-vulnerable, don’t forget to go outside and enjoy the fresh air! This will be a welcome break for everyone in the family, for parents and kids underfoot – as well as single working professionals. Studies show people actually work harder and more intensely from home than at the office!
Uncertainty triggers feelings of fear and stress. But research shows that just ten minutes of walking in nature refreshes you, boosting your mood and helping with anxiety, depression in schoolwork, work, and everyday life.
So, listen to Jesus. Do not worry about tomorrow. Look at the birds and the flowers – literally! Take a walk outside. You don’t even have to feel like it. Just put on your shoes and go. You will feel better!
Soul Care Tip #3: Listen to Music. Create a Playlist
It’s amazing how our God designed our bodies to heal. Music is used in therapy to help calm, comfort and alleviate pain. Scientists found that simply playing classical music as background ambiance significantly improves your mood by releasing dopamine, lowers blood pressure, and reduces anxiety because tempos resemble a restful human heartbeat. You can take a “worship break” and listen to two songs while you get a drink of water or make a cup of tea. Instant peace.
3. The chaos of disrupting our normal work/school/home routines is stressful. How can we have more peace?
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Stress is a normal part of this journey. Now is the time to create some beautiful memories to combat the conflicts and balance it out with positive experiences. Break out your favorite board games, take out your old art supplies stashed away from college, learn a new instrument (there are online music lessons), borrow e-books from your local library, play online Pictionary with friends – ask your friends on social media for ideas. Use social media to spark sharing and conversations!
Truth from Scripture to Meditate On:
“Whatever is lovely —think about such things. Whatever you have learned… put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
Soul Care Tip #4: Enjoy Doing/Making Something with Your Hands
We are such strong thinkers. Sometimes it leads us to easily ruminate, which means to obsess about situations or relationships, leaving us feeling depressed or anxious. One way to reduce rumination is by enjoying activities that use our hands. It turns off the part of the brain that goes into the “what-if” loop.
Our nervous system was created to handle processing only a certain amount of information before we’re overwhelmed, triggering a “fight or flight” response of stress and anxiety. Research shows repetitive motions of creating with our hands—whether drawing, playing music, cooking, playing an instrument, photography, or gardening— returns calm to the nervous system. We enter a state of “flow,” similar to meditation, easing stress, increasing happiness, and activating dopamine, a natural mood enhancer.
Soul Care Tip #5: Put God’s grace into practice: Play a game
When we panic, anxiety shuts down the part of our brains that gives us our God-given creativity to handle stress. Play isn’t just for kids. Tap into the powerful benefits of play, shown by neurophysiology research: improved mood and well-being, reducing anxiety, depression, stimulating creativity, and enhancing relationships.
4. I’m struggling with feeling isolated. What can I do to stop spiraling in worry?
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The early church had to meet in homes under persecution too, and found creative ways to still gather. We were called for such a time as this. Using modern technology, we can still meet virtually. I’m now doing Group FaceTime with the small group of women that used to meet in my home, my middle schooler son is meeting his small group because his leader has set up Minecraft on to play and chat on the same server.
Truth from Scripture to Meditate On:
“We should not stop gathering together with other believers... Instead, continue to encourage each other even more.” Hebrews 10:25
Soul Care Tip #6: Do a Video Chat With Friends
FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom with Friends. It makes a difference to visually see and connect with others. Notice how you feel better after talking to someone about your troubles — even if the problem hasn’t been fixed? Research shows depression is eased, anxiety is reduced, and people bounce back sooner (resiliency) when people share their stories and talk about how they feel when events impact them (rather than just describing what happens).
Friends, we are women and men of promise and purpose: God’s promise is to love and care for you. If you feel panicked, we all relate. Ask for help. Don’t wait. Call your church, even if you feel others are too busy taking care of themselves to help you. It’s not true. We are people of promise, not panic. There are men and women who have been gifted to share just what you need! We are called to serve for such a time as this.
When others panic, you have the power to bless them at a time when we all need connection most.
No matter what feelings you are experiencing, practice soul care!
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Practice soul care. Turn to your loving Savior Jesus standing next to you – whether in line at the store or wherever you are – and hear the Prince of Peace tenderly whisper, I love you. I will help you. I am with you.
Then offer a loving word or smile to others with the blessing of peace. Turn a moment of panic into a promise. Shine your light.
How are you doing, friend? What promise in Scripture brings light and peace to your soul? You are so beloved. Let’s all share our certain hope in our Prince of Peace during these uncertain times. Here’s mine – may it encourage you today:
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:2
Bonnie Gray is author of Whispers of Rest and ofFinding Spiritual Whitespace. An inspirational speaker, Bonnie has touched thousands of lives to encourage and lead women to flourish in faith, stress recovery and wellness. Bonnie is featured writer at Relevant Magazine, (in)courage, and Christianity Today. She lives in California with her husband and two sons.
This article was created in conjunction with Bonnie's podcast: Breathe: The Stress Less Podcast. You can listen to her special episode about the coronavirus and battling stress here!