It was recently reported that calls to mental health hotlines, such as Samaritans of Singapore and the helpline at Singapore Association for Mental Health, have gone up. Online counselling portal, eC2.sg, which is run by Fei Yue Community Services, for example, noted that its number of chats in March was more than double the monthly average.
Given the current climate of fear and uncertainty due to the effects of Covid-19, it’s natural for many people to feel down, anxious, or even angry. For some of us, if these feelings are not addressed and tended to, they can soon fester and overwhelm us. What can we do when we find ourselves fretting and worrying?
Firstly, we can learn to accept our current situation. Instead of blaming ourselves, trying to do too many things, or faulting anyone or the system for inefficiencies, we can choose to accept that everyone is doing the best they can in an unprecedented situation.
God’s Word offers us an insightful perspective on this. These wise words in Ecclesiastes 7:14 remind us that both good times and bad times belong to our Lord, and can help us to reframe our view of difficult times when we feel stuck and helpless:
When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
anything about their future.
Secondly, and more importantly, we can turn to God and allow His words and peace to guard our hearts and minds. This is what Philippians 4:6-7 tells us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Even though we now live in a time of fear and uncertainty, we can ask God for His peace to guard our minds against destructive thoughts.
Mental health experts also offer us some useful advice about coping with stresses and sources of anxiety. According to them, making little changes to our daily routines can help us to maintain mental wellness by improving our mood and state of mind. These include doing more physical activities and body movements, reaching out to our friends and loved ones, and engaging in expressive arts like singing, painting, writing, knitting, and dancing.
More Than Worry
However, they also warn that if we notice that these feelings of anxiety—either in ourselves or loved ones—are recurrent or trigger physical symptoms such as insomnia and indigestion, it will be wise to seek professional help. Such symptoms may be indicative of an underlying health issue which requires medical attention.
Many organisations in Singapore offer emotional help and support, as do counselling hotlines that allow people to get help from trained officers. Some churches also offer a professional counselling service which you can consider too.
Remember, you are not alone on this journey, no matter how bleak your circumstances may look during this period. —Jasmine Goh
Father, You know my thoughts and worries
Grant me Your wisdom to live in this difficult time,
and Your peace to guard my heart and mind.