Shopping Cart


Soul Care for a Chaotic COVID-19 World

Wednesday, 15 April 2020  | Christine Aroney-Sine

In the midst of a COVID-19 world we are all scrambling to reorder the way we do things. We’re struggling with the anxieties that are consuming our society and the busyness this has created for us. I think most of us are feeling overwhelmed and overworked.

It is easy to focus on our fears and what makes us anxious and vulnerable during a pandemic like this. Some of us are closer to the hot spots than others, though as the virus spreads everyone seems to be in a hot spot. My husband Tom and I live in Seattle, which was one of the earliest hard-hit communities in the U.S. We have now been self-isolating for more than three weeks, trying to reinvent our lives for this ‘new normal’ where gatherings are impossible and where online services, classes and chats seem to be the only way to communicate. I know how easily we can get consumed by the daily statistics as we map the virus’ spread, its overwhelming death toll and the seeming inadequacy of testing.

However it seems to me that it is not just our testing that is inadequate. Our commitment to self-care is inadequate, too, and that contributes to our fears and anxieties. Church leaders are some of the worst at looking after themselves. But we can’t look after others effectively if we are not looking after ourselves.

It is so easy for us to focus on the negative, but looking after ourselves means taking a good chunk of time to focus on the positive each day. Here are some suggestions:

1.     Establish empowering rituals that relax you and provide stability for your body, spirit and soul:

           Begin the day with gratitude and count your blessings – a warm home, good health, strong faith, good relationships. What are you grateful for as you begin this day?

           Breathing exercises and contemplation. These are both powerful tools that relax us and draw us closer into the inner sanctuary of our souls where God dwells. Psalm 136 is a great place to start if you are not familiar with this practice.

           Read the scriptures and/or listen to your favorite hymns and songs, each morning. Don’t give up on your quiet times.

           Find stability and anchors for our souls. What makes you feel safe and secure? Do you have a favourite place in the house to sit, an armchair or a few sacred items that make you feel comfortable and safe? I call these ‘at home’ items. Return to these as often as possible. A sacred item like a small cross that you can carry in your pocket and hold onto when you feel most vulnerable can also help.

2.     Maintain as much normalcy in your daily routines as possible. A few late mornings sleeping in because you don’t have to go to your workplace might be fun, but making a habit of it will, in the long run, be detrimental to both your physical and emotional health. So get up, get dressed as though you were going to work and make this seem like a normal work day with normal work hours. Kids should wear their school uniforms. You might even like to do what one of my friends does. She sits in her car for 10 minutes each morning and then again in the afternoon so that it feels as though she is going to work. Don’t relegate yourself to a dingy garage or basement to work - it will contribute to your disorientation and instability.

3.     Don’t allow yourself to obsess about the bad news. Look for good news stories that give you hope and encouragement. There are a lot of them springing up, telling of Godly connections and the good things people are doing through their churches and in their neighbourhoods.

3.     Get plenty of exercise. Many of us can’t go to the gym but we can still develop home exercise regimes that strengthen our muscles and keep us fit:

           Go for a long walk each day. Getting out into nature is one of the most therapeutic and relaxing things that all of us can do. I like to do what I call an ‘awe and wonder walk’ - intentionally focusing on what awes me and beckons me to stop, take notice and thank God. I take photographs and post these daily on Instagram and Facebook. They lift not just my spirit but that of my friends and colleagues too.

           Start a garden or clean up your existing one. This is a great time to experiment with a little gardening. Winter may be on its way but we can still plant seeds on a windowsill or in a warm spot inside. This is a great activity to do with kids, too, who love to watch things grow.

4.     Get plenty of sleep - when we are sleep deprived we become irritable, anxious and depressed, and nothing helps us sleep like exercise and calming rituals.

5.     Get creative. Is there a creative pursuit that you have not had time for in the past? This is probably a perfect time to give it a go. Maybe you are a budding artist, musician or writer – take some time to be creative and have some fun with it. If you are looking for ideas you might like to look at my latest book The Gift of Wonder, full of creative suggestions that are particularly geared towards helping us connect to God and discover a new joy in our relationship with the divine.

6.     Get out, play and have some fun – Play and laughter are wonderful ways to de-stress ourselves. They even strengthen our immune systems and this is in many ways a heaven-sent opportunity to do just that.

None of us are any good to others if we are basket cases ourselves. This pandemic will not go away soon but we can develop resilience and a strengthened faith through it. So my prayer for all of you is that you will take time for yourself, have some fun and stay strong.

Christine Aroney-Sine is an Australian physician who developed the medical ministry for Mercy Ships. She is also the founder and facilitator of God Spacean online community that grew out of her passion for creative spirituality, gardening and sustainability. She and her husband, Tom, are cofounders of Mustard Seed Associates. Her most recent book is The Gift of Wonder: Creative Practices for Delighting in God.


Christine’s gratitude garden for contemplation.

A fun finger labyrinth.

A doodle by Kim Balke.

Got something to add?

  • Your Comment


Online Resources

subscribe to engage.mail

follow us

Latest Articles