It is no surprise to you that COVID-19 is stressful. Yet, I found that simply saying, “This is stressful” wasn’t very helpful. Oh sure, it helped a little, but in the way that eating a bit of chocolate helps me in the moment. Five minutes later, that bit is long gone and fast forgotten.
Instead of the big ball of yarn labeled “stress,” I sat down and teased out sources of stress specifically related to what you and I are experiencing. To help us remember and categorize these sources I used the acronym “COVID VIRUS.”
See how many of these are a source of stress these days:
- Autonomy on your decision to stay or leave
- Family – do you have college aged TCKs, aging parents, single
- What special events do you have this season or year?
- What has been Shut down or postponed
- What new opportunities are created? New skills you need to learn?
V—Virus (medical reality)
- Health (yours, family, friends, locals)
- Medical systems you may need to access or not be able to get to
I—Isolation (are you)
- With family
- With friends/co-workers
Your own temperament will find different aspects stressful if you are a person wired for:
- Optimism vs. Pessimism
- High vs. Low Structure
V—Visa (and other parts of life on the field)
- Support raising and financial realities of supporters
- Stay-at-home and how the regulations are made
- Different interpretations of regulations
- The amount of time you have known people
- The moods of those around you
- The sheer amount of disruption
- The sheer scope of the disruption
- Distant from God
- Disappointed in yourself
Whew! That’s a lot. Listing it out like this helped me to understand the many directions that stress is coming these days. Understanding how much COVID VIRUS stress you are experiencing is a key first step. Review this list and see how many of these you have experienced. You are still in the thick of the stress, so it is okay that you are stressed. It is reasonable that your body, mind, and soul are impacted. But as the weeks and months go by, this is also true: Unmanaged high stress over time can lead to burnout or depression.
God has designed you to be an integrated being who is impacted by the stress and trials of life.
The next step is to ask yourself, how are you managing your stress and what adjustments do you need to make in the short and long term to manage it better?
You will forever be marked by this COVID-19 season. How could you not be? Yet debriefing in-person is expensive and right now almost impossible to get to. The material in this article is modified from one of the debriefing modules created by Global Trellis “Debriefing COVID-19.” Because whether you left or stayed, you have a lot to unpack from this season so that seeds of burnout or bitterness don’t take root.
You can start debriefing today. Or get it today since it is discounted for one more day and start it in a few weeks or when you have time.
Which of these three could you beneifit from today:
1. Space to reflect on how COVID-19 has influenced your life.
2. Begin to process loss so that seeds of bitterness don’t take root.
3. Create a record of what you have experienced.
Or all three? God will meet you in what you need as you debrief COVID-19.