Many of us are experiencing difficulty in dealing with the changes that COVID-19 has brought into our lives. Our everyday life seems turned upside-down and we may feel uncertain about how to cope. That’s normal. We’re all experiencing some form of anxiety as we navigate these changing times.
However, your despair could be something else. Thousands of people live with depression every day. Depression can be defined as a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that can be influenced by how we think and what we do.
Because of COVID-19, some people may be experiencing a temporary depressive reaction. That kind of response can arise when your life goes through a severe change. It can happen to anyone even if they haven’t experienced depressive thoughts in the past.
You may not even know you’re going through it. But if you’re having trouble dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19, and are having negative thoughts that seem out of control, there are ways to turn them in a positive direction.
In times of uncertainty, you want to pay attention to your thought life. Are your thoughts negative and causing you more stress? Lifting the weight of negative thoughts off of your shoulders will give you more energy and help you feel motivated again. But how do we redirect our thoughts?
We spoke with San Diego Clinical Psychologist Amber Salvador, Psy.D. who has been a member of Rock Church for more than six years. She has some very helpful suggestions on ways to turn negative or fearful thoughts into positive ones. Dr. Salvador says, “Your focus will determine your mood because what you tell yourself is powerful and will influence your feelings. For example, are you focusing on what you have versus what you’re missing? Are you focusing on what you can control versus what you cannot control? Shifting your focus from what is missing to gratitude, or to what you can control, will help you to accept your situation and make decisions from a place of calm versus depression or anxiety.”
The Bible even references thinking on good things:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~ Philippines 4:8
Get Active and Shift Your Focus
Dr. Salvador says you can also relieve negative or depressing thoughts by moving your body. Depression is emotional energy that is living inside of your body and weighing you down. You want to move that energy and shift your focus so that you can release some of the emotions you are carrying.
One way you can do that is through exercise. Going for a brisk walk outside is a great way to get some exercise and sunlight has positive effects on mood and can lift up your spirit. If you have a bicycle, go on a ride either by yourself or ask someone to go with you. Or you can just relax and play some of your favorite songs! Music can be essential in lifting your spirit and turning your mood in a positive direction. Ultimately shifting your focus and keeping moving are strategies you can use to be more in control and help lift the “fog” from your mind.
This is also a good time to turn your concerns or fears over to God. During times of uncertainty, you can depend on His endless love for guidance through any storm.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8
However, if you are grieving over things you have lost during COVID-19, you will want to take the time to acknowledge that loss. Expressing your loss can actually help you come to terms with it and learn to deal with it in a positive way. Dr. Salvador suggests a few ways to do that:
The key is to acknowledge your pain, share it, or even ask for help so that you can learn the tools to move through pain and heal during this time of uncertainty.
“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” ~ Psalm 3:3
If you feel as if your negative thoughts are more serious and not just temporary, Rock Church has resources available for you. There are times in our lives when we need to seek help that requires a person that is professionally trained to provide guidance, assistance, and healthy solutions to our problems. The Rock has compiled a list of Christian counseling agencies and therapists in the San Diego area for you. Click here for counseling resources.