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16.04.2020 16:37:38 412x read.
A Word of Counsel on the Psychological Effects of Covid-19. (IGC April 2020)

A Word of Counsel on the Psychological Effects of Covid-19.

Dear Brothers and Associates,

Theresa of Avila observes that Religious (men and women) are members of human society and so changes in society affect them as well. The COVID-19 pandemic that is devastating the core fabric of the human society in the world leaves no one of us untouched. The situation has disoriented our minds and disorganized every aspect of human life. The World Health Organization (WHO), local governments and church authorities continue to give or review given protocols all intending to fight the continuous spread of the virus. The General Council (GC) does not intend to add more protocols to the existing ones but to draw our attention to the psychological effects of COVID-19 and to give hope and encouragement to all of us.

Even though we may not be infected by the virus for now (and we hope nobody gets infected), but practically, all of us are psychologically affected even by the mere prevalence of it. The stress and fear of it may be softly introducing other serious health conditions to all of us. Research shows that stress is a silent and secret killer. It is even sad to note that the psychological effects of this situation will continue even when the virus has been combated and eradicated completely from the human race.

Dear Brothers and Associates, there is a German proverb that says, “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is”. Yes, lifestyle has changed for everyone. We may be experiencing partial or total lockdown; compulsory or self-quarantine, and the uncertainty of when and how all of these will end provide a fertile ground for the human enemy of stress/fear to take control of us. Psychologists assert that the interpretation of any given situation or event influences our thoughts, feelings, behaviour, and consequently influence our wellbeing. Thus, let us all be mindful and careful of what information we consume and/or circulate about COVID-19 to others through the social media.

We may argue that our fear of the virus is shaped by forces beyond our control e.g. our age, our location, my already poor health conditions, name them. In this way, we see ourselves as victims of the virus or blame others for their actions or inactions. But the fact remains that our thoughts about it may even be more deadly than the power of the COVID-19. We are more than what we think we are because God is with us. If we trust in God’s providence and protection over us we will remain calm, focused and healthy. On the other hand, if we entertain fear out of proportion about the virus, some of us may even die before the virus “knocks” at our door. So “watch your thoughts”. Let us be people full of faith, hope and trust in God; “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2Timoty 1:7). In this way of positive thinking, we will surely find peace of mind even in the midst of these trying times.

Let us also take the opportunity of the “Corona virus holidays” to reflect more on ourselves, our being and our relationship with others and God. Let us demonstrate the spirit of solidarity and charity by praying more intensely for ourselves and others in society. Maybe it is time to read the Scriptures and other books. Maybe it is time to rest your body and mind. However, be aware that eating and sleeping all the time may lead to obesity, boredom and other chains of health issues. Listen to music if you like. Maybe it is also an opportunity for each one of us to face the reality that life is between birth and death and all of us will surely travel through the same journey. And so, why worry so much about that which will surely come one day, somehow and in some way? Such positive ways of thinking will keep our stress level low and we will conserve psychical energy and empower our immune system enough in order to be able to fight not only the COVID-19 but all other viruses that threaten life.

Finally, dear Brothers and Associates, let us take counsel from scripture that, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11: 4). Our prayers and wishes are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with our thoughts, actions and inactions. God may be looking at how each one of us RESPONDS OR REACTS to the COVID-19 pandemic. James Allen says, “A person is made or unmade by himself. By his thoughts, he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; and by his thoughts, he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself heavenly mansions of joy, strength, and peace”. Similarly, the Apostle Paul, no doubt, was aware of the effects of stress on human existence and so he says to us; “Finally, brothers, 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” (Philippians 4:8).

Our prayer for each one of us is that God will set us free from the pestilence of the COVID-19 and of the psychological effects of it and show us in the confusion of our lives the things that really mater.

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