Self Care in a Pandemic

COVID-19 has upended life as we know it. Many facets of our lives look different than they once did: routines, church, school, work, even the news cycle. We all face unique challenges in this season, but we’re not in it alone. Spend a few minutes with our Bethel experts—who offer practical tips and resources to help you care well for yourself and those around you in this season.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, content specialist

February 08, 2021 | 9 a.m.

Self care during a pandemic

Design by Kristi Ellison '10

Six Ways to Care for Your Mental Health

from Miriam Hill, Ph.D., LMFT, Director of Counseling Services and Lisa Wold, M.S., LPCC, Mental Health Counselor

1. Make a schedule. Schedules can help give your days a sense of structure and purpose. Include things that will help you stay mentally and emotionally strong, like taking a daily walk or having a weekly coffee date with a friend, in addition to the things you need to do for work or for your family.

2. Maintain social connections. While maintaining social connections takes intentionality, it’s important for your overall mental health. Make a list of the people you want to connect with on a regular basis. Open your calendar and start making plans.

3. Ask for help. We are living in challenging times. Most people living today have never experienced a global pandemic, so don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need some support.

4. Avoid doom scrolling. Doom scrolling is the tendency to continue scrolling through bad news on your electronic devices, even though it causes you increased levels of anxiety and distress. Instead, be intentional about your time online. Give yourself a time limit to look at news and social media, and stick to it.

5. Acknowledge painful feelings. We are all experiencing feelings of loss, frustration, and anxiety. Give yourself permission to acknowledge what you are feeling. Share your honest feelings with a trusted friend, and acknowledge what you are feeling to God through prayer or journaling.

6. Practice gratitude. The ability to see and appreciate what is good, even in the midst of painful or challenging situations, helps us maintain emotional resilience. Research shows that developing a gratitude practice can help to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Seven Leadership Qualities for the Pandemic and Beyond

from Mark McCloskey, Director of the M.A. in Transformational Leadership program, Bethel Seminary

Are you in a leadership role in your church, workplace, or home? Practice these seven cardinal virtues as you lead and serve others in your sphere of influence.

Faith. Embrace faith, not fear. Remember God is at work on a larger story.

Courage. Move forward in the face of fear.

Hope. Hold realistic hope for the future.

Love. Consider how to love others sacrificially in times of challenge.

Wisdom. Pray for God’s perspective as we interact and respond to others.

Justice. How can we use our resources to respond to those suffering unjustly in this challenge?

Self-control. Stay solid and be an example of how to live well in the face of difficulty.

Four Tips for Staying Informed

from Scott Winter, Associate Professor of Journalism and Yu-Li Chang Zacher, Associate Professor of Journalism

The news cycle is fast-paced. It’s challenging to keep up, and social media makes it hard to distinguish fact from opinion. But with the current pandemic reality, staying informed can be crucial for public health.

1. Identify your go-to reliable news sources. Your local newspaper is a great place to start.
2. Avoid getting news from a company that isn’t a news outlet.
3. Recognize your own biases. When individuals read something that aligns with their preferred narrative, they’re less likely to fact-check.
4. Be wary of misinformation. If something you read seems off, do a little research.

Four Ways to Seek God During the Pandemic

from Laurel Bunker, Vice President of Christian Formation and Church Relations

1. Practice sabbathing. Set aside technology and take a day, or even a couple of hours, to reflect and truly rest. Enjoy the outdoors. Go for a walk. Put yourself in an environment that is beautiful and introspective.
2. Create a retreat for yourself. Go alone to a cabin, a retreat center, or even a hotel. Bring your Bible and a journal. Step away for a time from the demands and structure of daily life.
3. Listen to the Word of God. Light a candle, find a place to sit still, and listen to an audio recording of Scripture. Rather than reading, let the Word of God wash over you.
4. Spend time in prayer. Prayer or alone time with the Lord can be intimidating during certain seasons, but reflecting on Scripture can help invite you in. See Matthew 11:28-29, Philippians 4:6-8, Psalm 23, Matthew 6:9-13, or Hebrews 4:16.

Suggested reading on spiritual disciplines:
• Spiritual Practices of Jesus: Learning Simplicity, Humility, and Prayer with Luke’s Earliest Readers by Catherine J. Wright, Bethel University Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies
• Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
• Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You by John Ortberg

Brighten Your Living Space

from Sara Wyse, Professor of Biological Sciences and Amy Dykstra, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences

House plants are a great way to bring some life to your home in this season. No green thumb? No problem. Here are some starter tips:

• Know whether your plant is shade-tolerant or needs full sun, then place it somewhere it will thrive.
• Rotate your plant each time you water it to give all parts of the plant access to sunlight.
• If your plant starts growing up and out toward the window, that means it needs more sunlight.
• Check your plant’s soil moisture by sticking your finger an inch into the soil. If the soil feels moist, your plant doesn’t need water!
• If leaves turn yellow or purple, your plant may need more minerals. Fertilizers can help, but too much fertilizer can cause harm.

Try a New Recipe at Home

provided by the Sodexo team at Bethel University

Banana Ice Cream Muffins
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 10-12 muffins

Muffin Base
2 c ice cream, melted
1 1/2 c self-rising flour
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c chocolate chips

1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine melted ice cream and self-rising flour and mix thoroughly. Use a fork to mash the banana and mix into flour. Add chocolate chips and mix.
3. Coat muffin tin with nonstick spray or add paper liners. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full of batter.
4. Bake 12-15 minutes. To check, stick toothpick or fork into center of muffin. If toothpick comes out clean, muffins are ready.
5. While baking, mix glaze ingredients together.
6. Once muffins are done, let cool, then use a spoon to drizzle glaze over top. Enjoy!

Working from Home? Make It Work for You

from Ann Vu Ngo, Associate Dean of Career Development and Calling

1. Have a designated workspace.
2. Create new routines to start your day.
3. Take intentional breaks and move your body.
4. Decide on an “end” time when you’ll turn off your computer.
5. Close your day with a ritual—like a walk or shower—to help you leave “work mode.”

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