Grace Lutheran Church and School



Resources for physical, mental and spiritual health as the pandemic continues

Posted by Pat Gulik, RN on

September--almost six months since life changed due to the coronavirus pandemic! And it does not look like things will resemble the way we were used to living anytime soon.

We have adapted to this new way of living because we’ve had to. Distancing, masks, hand sanitizer, handwashing—as I type this, I’m struck by how sick of these words I am. I would like to find a place where Covid-19 does not exist, hug my friends and family, attend a concert or sporting event and travel without worry, but unfortunately, such a place does not exist right now.

Even those of us who have done a pretty good job of coping with the changes are probably starting to get tired of it all. This can certainly have an effect on one’s health, both physical and mental. So, I want to talk about some things that you can do to protect your health – now and in the coming months. We’ve talked about these things before but many bear repeating as the pandemic drags on.

Take care of your physical health

Try to maintain a healthy diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables and water.

Get some regular exercise, such as walking/running or participate in the online classes available through the River Forest Township. This is good for physical and mental health. If you live in a congested area you may need to drive to a forest preserve or nearby, less crowded, suburb to walk/run.

Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Exercise will help with this.

Consume alcohol in moderation. Some studies have indicated that since people have been spending more time at home, alcohol consumption has gone up. New research shows that more than one drink per day for both men and women is associated with more health problems. Alcohol also disrupts sleep and has a lot of calories, which can cause weight gain.

Get a flu shot. Many of the symptoms of the seasonal flu are the same as for Covid-19, which will make it difficult for doctors to differentiate between the two. Health experts are concerned about the upcoming flu season and the possibility of a “twindemic” that could overwhelm the health care system.  It’s best if you can get your flu shot in late September or October in order to be covered for the entire flu season, but anytime now is ok. Flu shots will be available at Grace on October 3, 2020. Look for an email with more information in the next couple of weeks.

Maintain your regular appointments with your doctor/s.

Take care of your mental/emotional health

We’ve talked about the impact of social isolation many times over the past few months, but I doubt any of us imagined that the need to be mindful of this would go on for so long. Maybe those of us who were doing well initially are finding it harder as the isolation continues. It is so very important to continue to be intentional about keeping in touch with others and to participate in things that take you outside of yourself.

In addition to phone calls, Facetime,  and Zoom,  I encourage you to take advantage of the good weather to be outdoors. Make plans to visit with a friend at a local park, on your porch or in your yard. (Bring your own lunch or coffee.) And, if you can—walk. It's good for physical and mental health.

Here are some other options, too, available via phone as well as Zoom.

Grace Church's  Finding Hope Support Group. Judie McDonnell writes, “A support group for people with chronic illness. A chronic illness is a condition that doesn’t go away and affects your life physical, emotionally or spiritually. We meet on Zoom one or two times per month for about an hour. Our next meeting will be on Friday, September 18, at 10am. Contact Grace Church for more information and to get your name on the lis for sharing the Zoom link.  

Mather LIfeways Telephone Topics.  Mather is a non-denominational not-for-profit organization that "provides transformational opportunities for all those who live, visit, learn, and work with us." Their Telephone Topics make many different types of programs available by phone or Zoom. Although Mather’s focus is seniors, there are topics here that look interesting for other age groups as well. They're free — take a look!

Coffee Mondays and other programs sponsored by the River Forest Library. The September 14 program includes a representative from the League of Women Voters. Register here.  The Oak Park Public Library and the Forest Park Library also sponsor virtual events, including book discussions and one-on-one technology help sessions.

Movie discussions and other events sponsored by Arbor West Neighbors. a grassroots, inter-generational organization of neighbors. 

Take care of your spiritual health

Health also has a spiritual component. Although we can now worship together in small groups, and the Sunday morning livestream service is wonderful, I continue to hear from many of you that this is not the same as when the whole congregation could be together for worship and fellowship. And it’s getting you (and me) down. That’s why it is so important for us at Grace to persevere, to continue to “be the church,” even when we can’t worship together in person.

Those who have helped others by reaching out are living the mission of Grace Church. There have been so many examples of this in the past months: Grace’s phone ministers who have been staying in touch with other congregation members with regular calls; all those who regularly send cards to others, pray for others, and shop for those unable to go out. Grace members continue to volunteer at the Harmony Food Pantry and in other places in our community. They prepare and deliver meals for Grace Care and made masks for The Night Ministry, Concordia Place and other organizations. Grace members have also made  financial donations to community ministries that serve the many people who have been hard hit by this pandemic. Consider getting involved in these activities, if you haven't already.

Some other ways to nurture your spiritual health:

Take time for daily prayer and reflection. Devotional books are available at the reception desk.

Read Pastor Lyle’s daily blog posts.

Attend the Cornerstones Bible study group which will begin in mid-September via Zoom.

Wheaton College’s Humanitarian Disaster Institute has spiritual resources available. Here's an example: When Your Whole World Changes: Building Your Spiritual Resources during an Uncertain Time.

I am available to visit with you by phone, or in person by appointment. Call me at 708-366-6900 ext 219 if you have a concern, need resources or simply need to talk. Leave a message and I will return your call.

Yours in Christ,
Pat Gulik RN
Parish Nurse


7300 Division Street | River Forest, IL 60305 | (708) 366-6900