I finally got hit with COVID and I was scared.
After two years of avoiding coronavirus, I found myself nursing a very painful sore throat and a fever that gave me chills one minute and had my body burning up the next. It was hard to sleep while my bones ached and my muscles and joints wrestled with pain. Lying on my bed, feeling like I was hit by a ton of bricks, what surprised me was how demoralizing it felt to lose my sense of smell and taste. I had no appetite and the comfort foods that used to soothe me, like chicken soup and Chinese fried rice, offered me no relief. It felt like I was chewing on cardboard pieces and it affected my morale.
What was even more unexpected was the fear and worries filling my mind as I lay there exhausted. Logically, I knew I’d likely be okay and it was only a matter of time before I’d recover. But all those news articles I’d read over the years about health scares gripped my mind. What if I don’t fully recover? What if I can’t shake this fatigue?
Even more discouraging was that I was facing a deadline for my fourth book due the same month! One stressful thing might not be so bad, but when multiple circumstances are layered on top of each other, chronic stress can settle in. I was suffering from brain fog and mental fatigue. My inability to focus felt debilitating. I lost track of my thoughts and struggled to concentrate.
Do you find yourself struggling with mental fatigue or chronic stress, too? Brain fog doesn’t just affect those with COVID. Mental fatigue happens when we juggle too many things, while also pushing our emotions to the side. Our brains can only handle so much information. We become overloaded. We figure we’ll process how we’re doing later, after whatever personal crisis is hitting us. Yet, without space to stop and breathe, our brains start to tire.
When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus. Stress negatively affects our well-being and emotions. When we carry stress over time, inundated with the deluge of information, we can experience mental fatigue.
Helping my brain recover didn’t require a big overhaul. Little changes can make a big difference! Have you ever opened up so many tabs on your computer that you suddenly get the spinning, colored wheel and your system freezes? That’s what happens to our brains when we’re overloaded. So, by simply closing those “tabs” of activity and stress, our bodies and emotions can breathe and recover.
To reduce mental fatigue and relieve brain fog, here are three soul care tips to rest that helped me, and I know they’ll help you too!
1. Choose grace, not guilt.
Extend yourself the kindness and comfort you generously give others. Ironically, the times we most need God’s comfort are times we deprive ourselves of care. We may feel selfish. Yet, God says we can comfort others only with the comfort we first receive ourselves (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
Prioritize your well-being. Ask for help. Or simply say no to extra demands or others’ requests temporarily, so you can say yes to taking better care of yourself. I asked for a book extension, even though I was afraid of disappointing my publisher. By asking for support and help, I received it!
2. Take microbreaks.
Studies show taking a microbreak, just thirty seconds to five minutes every thirty minutes, to disengage from your work and move your body reboots your brain and calms your body.
One simple way to take microbreaks and take better care of yourself is by drinking water. Studies show that drinking water keeps stress levels low. But not drinking enough water increases the stress hormone cortisol, inducing anxiety and stress responses, such as an increased heart rate, nausea, fatigue, and headaches. Studies show dehydration affects our moods. When we stay hydrated, our bodies run better, leading to wellness. Water is God’s natural stress reducer!
3. Let the Spirit intercede.
Even when we’re too stressed to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us by praying for us. Romans 8:26-27 promises, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Verse 34 assures us that Jesus Himself is also interceding for us! Ask Jesus and the Spirit to pray for you so you can prioritize your well-being.
As I gave myself permission to take a break from obligations and commit myself to a season of rest, I focused on God’s goodness: “But as for me, the nearness of God is good for me; I have made the Lord God my refuge” (Psalm 73:28 NASB).
Your loving Savior Jesus whispers, Come to me all who are weary and burdened. And I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). God is faithful to provide all you need.
You are God’s beloved.
For tips to stress less, download Bonnie Gray’s FREE Stress Less devotional here! Also, listen to Bonnie’s popular wellness podcast, BREATHE: The Stress Less Podcast. Listen and subscribe anywhere you listen to podcasts.
I needed these tips this morning. Thank you!
Pearl Allard says
Great tips and reminders. I’ll go get a glass of water now! But I’m so sorry you had to deal with COVID too. It’s awful! Hoping you are well on your way to full health again!
Ruth Mills says
Amen, Bonnie! Praying you are fully recovered from Covid. This post shows no signs of brain fog! Blessings!
I had COVID at the end of last summer and I’m still struggling with brain fog. I’m going to try some of these tips to see if they help
I had it at the end of October and still battling brain fog and fatigue. It’s honestly been so discouraging and depressing for me. So thankful for this post end for your encouragement today Bonnie! I pray you continue to feel better!
And you too Heather!!!
Ariel Krienke says
Thank you Bonnie. This is a beautiful reminder to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we forget it is ok to ask for help and that we need rest at times. This is a great article to remind us. Thank you sister. Amen.
Karen Knowles says
Thank you for this excellent post, Bonnie! Yes, little changes can make a big difference.
And you too Heather!!!
Nancy Ruegg says
Good to know that water is God’s natural stress reducer! It makes sense to take advantage of what He provides. Thank you, Bonnie! I do pray your bout with Covid is a thing of the past and you’re back to your energetic self!
I have lived with “brain fog” and extreme fatigue for years and years (no COIVD yet). Ironically, going off gluten and dairy and reducing sugar has REALLY helped. I now live a far more “normal” life. I still have to be careful and have learned to do all these wonderful tips that Bonnie has given us, but diet is so important too. Yes, take time for ourselves. I no longer feel guilty (as much) when I say no or take time to rest.
Today was a really tough day. Isn’t God marvelous in all he does with great love and power. This article is just what I needed. To lean in close to the One that loves me best.
Jennifer Haynie says
Thank you for your wise post. Part of me wonders if sickness can be a way of God essentially making us slow down. I’m not saying that’s the case all of the time, but I’ve found that it can function as a “reset” and a way to simply slow down, stop, and take care of ourselves.
I hope you’re feeling better by the time this post hit the Internet. COVID’s not any fun, even a light case of it.
Thank you! I needed this. I asked Jesus and the Holy Spirit to pray for me. My husband died quite unexpectedly from Covid in February. I’ve been leaning on the Lord and looking forward to seeing how He “works all this together for my good” but it’s hard and I’m tired, not physically, but bone-tired inside. God is good all the time! I just need help.
Lifting you up in prayer, Joy, that God would give you a renewed sense of his love, peace and presence in your time of grief. Hugs from Georgia
Oh Bonnie. So sorry you became ill. So thankful that you are recovering—praying that you give yourself grace.
Beth Williams says
So sorry you had to deal with Covid. I worked as a clerical in ICU & med surge covid units. I saw the devastating effects it had on people.
I love your soul care ideas. Women, especially, don’t take care of ourselves. We prioritize everyone else then maybe we do something for ourselves. I try to take some microbreaks at work. Leaving the ICU unit & just going for a short walk. It seems to help some, but now I’m going to add drinking 1-2 cans of Bubly-flavored carbonated water. Thanks for these great ideas.