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United Nation's Secretary General Antonio Guterres recently warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is "the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War". There is no denying that this is a big one. Whether we'll remain physically well or not, we're all being affected in various ways. By now, most of us are carefully taking precautions to avoid getting infected ourselves and infecting others. But it is not only our physical health that is at risk. Our mental health is also being challenged. How do we manage our thoughts and feelings in this crisis so we can get through this, and maybe, even come out stronger?

Here are some tips:

1. It's a crisis. Face it.

• Yes, it is a crisis. It came upon us unexpectedly, it brings a lot of uncertainty, and it threatens things that are important and dear to us. It reminds us how quickly things can change. We never know what the next moment will bring. Only God does.

• Minimizing or maximizing it is not helpful. There's a danger in making it smaller than it is, but nothing is gained either by blowing it out of proportions. Let it be what it is; not more, not less, according to the limits of our knowledge and understanding.

• Take one step at a time. There's no turning back and there's no running away. This is one step, and then another one, on an unknown path into an unknown future. Remember, though, that it's better to walk together. If one falls, the other can raise him up.

• A crisis brings out the best and the worst in us. Expect to see some of both in yourself and others. Therefore, be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself and others.

• A crisis may be a turning point for better and for worse. Let's harvest as much good as possible from it.

2. It will be difficult. Accept it.

• Rather than a nightmare we wake up from, this is a reality we wake up to every day. We cannot make it go away. This is where we are right now, and we need to do our best in the midst of it.

• We cannot control this. The virus is so small, still it overpowers so much. But we can do our best and support others in doing their best. And, we are best equipped to do our best when we deal with reality as it is.

• There will be negative outcomes. There will be losses. It will be stressful. It will take time. But there may also be positive outcomes.

• Many will suffer physically, mentally, relationally, socially, financially, existentially, and spiritually. There no point in trying to persuade yourself and others that all is well. It's not. But we can find help and comfort in one another and in God. It's time to draw closer together.

3. It's a time for reflection. Work on it.

• It's time for a time-out. We live in a world that is so rushed and high-paced that every second may be filled with something. Many are busy producing or consuming, one or the other, almost every waking moment. This leaves little time to think, to reflect, to meditate, to feel, to talk, to connect. As many things now stop, we need to slow down. To allow spaces to open up, to pause, to question, to evaluate, to reconsider. Don't stuff open spaces with whatever is at hand. Allow reflection to enter. Am I living the life I want to live? What are the real values and priorities of my life? My words and wishes may be one thing, while my actions tell a different story. The test of truth is not what I say, but what I do. What is the truth about my life?

• As the virus floods our countries, we may find our hearts and minds flooded by things totally unrelated, yet triggered, activated, and stirred up right now. Things from our past, our present or our future. Things that may surprise us, things we did not know were there, or things that are bigger and stronger than we imagined. They may wash over us like waves. Or, we may ride them when they come. The latter may be the better. But a wave cannot be planned. You have to be ready for it when it comes and let the ride be as wild or mild as the wave that carries it.

• Put first things first. Is it work? Is it health? Is it friends? Is it family? Is it God? Let your focus and your time reflect what matters most in your life.

4. What you do can make a difference. Do it.

• Love more. Despite the social distancing, stay socially connected. For your own sake and for the sake of others. By caring for others, you yourself will be helped.

• Talk better. Have good conversations every day with people who mean something to you. If you are alone, do it through phone or internet. If you are together with someone, set aside quality time for face to face and eye to eye conversations. And, remember, talk with God as your father, mother, friend, helper and savior. Maybe it's time for some of those deeper conversations?

• Make it nicer around you. Don't only wash your hands. Wash your face, your hair, your body, your clothes, your dishes, your floors. Maintaining the exterior things will make you feel better on the inside.

• Move more. If you can get outside, get outside every day and move for least 30 minutes. If you cannot go outside, get up and walk every hour, and do some indoor exercise. If you lack inspiration for indoor exercise, there are plenty of guided workouts online and on apps.

• Let the sun warm you. The sun not only brightens the sky, but it also brightens the mind. Enjoy some daylight every day if you can, even if the most you can do is sit by your window.

• Eat better. Take time to eat well. Who says you cannot cook a feast every day? Enjoy 2-3 meals a day, preferably together with someone. Don't snack continuously. Dust of those cookbooks and try out some new recipes. Eat plenty for fresh vegetables, fruits, and other wholefoods.

• Sleep enough. Go to bed so early that you will wake up refreshed in the morning. If you feel like napping, only do it once before late afternoon and no more than 30 minutes.

• Laugh frequently. Humor is a good way to buffer pain and release tension. It is an adult way of being playful. Look for what may be funny and enjoy it with someone.

• Cry when needed. Crying is also a good way to release tension and communicate to others that you are suffering. We don't blame babies for crying when they need someone to care and provide for them. We shouldn't blame adults either. Be compassionate with yourself and others whenever there are tears. Be compassionate always.

• Don't binge. Don't binge on Netflix. Don't binge on work. Don't binge on news. Don't binge on food. Don't binge on anger or frustrations. Just don't binge.

5. There's more to life than the pandemic. See it.

• Don't let the virus infect your entire life. There is so much more to life and to the world than the virus. Be grateful for those things.

• See others. Don't get totally absorbed by yourself and your own situation. There are many who are in need of an outstretched hand. Think about who that may be in your circle of family, friends, colleagues, church and community. Reach out to someone every day.

• Things could be worse. All is not lost even if some things are lost.

6. There is hope. Embrace it.

• This too will pass. Mankind has faced even bigger crises before and gotten through them. We'll get through this one too.

• As long as there is life, there is hope. And, as a Christian, even in death there is hope. We may suffer, but we need not despair. We are not alone in this.

• And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28 NIV).

• But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine" (Isa 43:1 NIV).

• For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's (Rom 14:8 ESV).

If you were worried about emptiness and boredom in the days ahead, what's listed above should be plenty to keep you busy, and maybe even happy.

And, by the way, I said; "don't binge", but there are actually some things you may binge on; "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Gal 5:22-23 NKJV). These are abundantly stockpiled in the heavenly warehouse, ready to be dispatched to whoever will receive them from the creator of all good things. "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Luke 11:9-10 NKJV).

Torben Bergland, MD, psychiatrist Associate Director, Health Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists