I meant to have a more formal introduction for this column, but then the corona virus struck. Everyone’s plans changed and so did mine. With an urgency…

No school, but we have 3 kids. No church activities, but I want to worship, volunteer, and lead. No teaching mental health/suicide prevention workshops, but I want to help people. No movies/restaurants/sporting events, but I don’t want to sit at home. No March Madness, but I need my yearly basketball tournaments.

Everything has changed so fast and my own mind is kind of in a haze trying to comprehend what is happening. From a daily fear of looking at our retirement portfolio to seriously pondering where we will buy toilet paper next week. Uncharted territory for this 44 year old living in Jesup.

How many times do I need to wash my hands in one day? Should we let the kids play outside? Can other kids come in our house? When will this all end? Will someone I love test positive for the virus?

It’s sometimes hard to just get out of bed in the morning. I almost feel defeated. Scared to even turn on the news and see the new data or listen to the bickering. Scared to consider how long this might last. Is the next school day going to be in August? So much stress and anxiety!

I’m confident many of you can relate to these same feelings and worries. These feelings are real and valid. It’s okay to be worried and I hope these next few paragraphs will benefit each of you.

I am a man of faith and I believe God has purpose for my life. That purpose is my work in mental health/suicide prevention. What an amazing opportunity for me and others in this field right now to help others. That’s right, I said OPPORTUNITY! Here are some tips to make your coronavirus experience more memorable in a positive way.

Get outside! I know we are supposed to stay away from people, but it is spring in Iowa and fresh air is essential. Take a walk, sit on your deck, go for a run. I’m doing many running workouts with my 13 year old daughter and I look forward to them every day. Get your body moving, get the sweat flowing, and get some outdoor air.

Make time to laugh every single day. I have made this a priority for many years because of my work in suicide prevention. Laughter is MEDICINE and can turn my mood instantly.

Enjoy the time of isolation with the people you are stuck with in your home! My 3 kids are on my nerves daily, but I am making time for each of them to do things that we don’t usually have time for. Please do the same with your families. Movies, cards, reading together, cooking together, there are so many choices.

The most important tip and I saved it for last. Connect more deeply with Jesus. As I recently learned from an online sermon, choose faith over fear. Take this time period of uncertainty in your life and turn it over to the one who knows all of our fears. As Jesus said in the book of John, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

I hope some of these tips will bless your lives in the days/weeks/months to come. I look forward to writing more columns for you and invite you to share your thoughts with me at ryan.r.nesbit@gmail.com. I also recommend that you listen to this podcast https://anchor.fm/anelia-k-dimitrova/episodes/On-Assignment-with-Anelia-Hope--Healing-Alive--RunningsRyan-Nesbit-on-suicide-prevention-work-eb4tu9 to learn more about my experiences. Until next time.

Ryan Nesbit is a co-founder of Alive and Running Iowa, suicide prevention and awareness non-profit, which hosts a 5K run in Dunkerton in June, one of the largest in Iowa and the second-largest suicide prevention events in the state. He lives in Jesup.