wow guys this year has just been… I don’t even know what to say about it.

2020

amiright?

Staying home, wearing masks, not traveling or seeing the people you love as much as you would like. Or at all… Working from home. Schooling from home.

COVID is affecting everyone. Obviously. But I have been thinking more and more about how our mental health is being scarred. How will we come out of this year and be able to go back into community and not be scared to be near people, or be comfortable in crowds? I was already. uncomfortable in crowds. and this has exponentially increased those fears. How have mental health concerns increased over this year? I did a little digging and here are some stats that I found.

There has been a 93% increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens and a 62% increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens. Over 8 in 10 people who took a depression screen have scored with symptoms of moderate to severe depression consistently since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. 37% of people reported having thoughts of suicide more than half or nearly every day in September 2020. 70% reported that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns was loneliness or isolation.

 (Stats From Mental Health America: https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america)

This pandemic is 100% affecting our mental health. Look at that last statistic again. 70% say that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns is loneliness/isolation. Of course we had loneliness and isolation before covid. But the mandated distance from others has severely increased these numbers. The affects of wearing a mask and not seeing people’s smiles or facial expressions can be very isolating. Add in staying 6 ft apart, not being able to hug people, not being able to go about our normal lives, hang out with friends, eat indoors at restaurants… We are not made for this.

But just knowing that doesn’t help. The weight of balancing would you rather get exposed to covid or would you rather preserve your mental health and be in community with others brings pressure and anxiety of its own! Everyone is struggling with the balance. How do I balance being wise, smart, respectful of others, while still maintaining my mental health and community? I do not want to expose myself or others to covid, but, I do not want to neglect my family and friends and church body. I do not want to feel alone nor let others feel alone when I can comfort them or provide rest or encouragement for them.

As the winter months are now upon us and a second stay at home order could be impending. (Who knows if it will come or not.) Finding ways to remain close to others while remaining distant is a constant challenge. One that desperately needs more of our attention. The winter will be hard. I want you to know you are not alone. If you need to spend time with someone reach out to me. I have a great front porch. I know its cold. Ee can bundle up with blankets and coffee. We can face time or talk on the phone. Don’t sit there feeling lonely. Reach out to someone else. Chances are they are feeling lonely too. Let’s make the rest of this pandemic a really sweet time to get (safely) closer to the people around us.

How can we break up the loneliness? How can we spread love and joy to others? How can we create community, and closeness, and “embrace” those who are feeling alone? What are some creative ways you have found to create community while remaining socially distant? I’d love to hear your ideas!