Change can be really hard, and right now all of us are having to adapt to a new kind of normal: staying home and adjusting to a new way of living. For even the most emotionally healthy person this requires getting used to. The challenges will differ from person to person. Issues such as loneliness, anxiety, fear and lack of control can peak. Perhaps the rhythms which helped you before aren’t able to be followed at the moment. Maybe busyness was something that helped you cope with life beforehand. Regardless of what our challenges are, there is one question that could help us all… what can we do in this time to stay healthy?
This list is not exhaustive and we would love to hear more ideas, but here are a few of our tips to kick us off:
Limiting screen time
Lou: At the moment the only real way to connect with people outside of our house is online. My battery doesn’t last half as long as it did a few weeks ago. At first I justified it by wanting to feel connected, but I’ve realised when I use it more my brain doesn’t switch off and I struggle to relax. By having regular screen free time I can slow down the amount of information I’m absorbing and bring some stillness into my day.
Helen: I have found it useful to limit the amount of news I consume each day. Using some of the tools provided on my phone, I’ve set limits for certain apps (news and Facebook!) and even on the days when I don’t want to respect those limits I’m more conscious that I’m using the apps and have reduced my information overload and mindless scrolling.
Having a schedule
(L) Pyjama days can be fun… But I often feel sluggish when I’m in them all day. Have a routine to stick to, which will give you a reason to get out of bed and start your day. A morning devotional such as Lectio 365 can be a great way to start the day off on the right foot.
(H) I find some touch points in the day are helpful, more like a natural rhythm than a schedule. I tend to try to get up and go to bed at the same times each day, and have regular meal times. With everyone in the house all the time I’ve been amazed at how little conversation actually happens, so I am working hard to make sure that we have meaningful interactions that go beyond whose turn it is to do childcare or make the next cuppa!
Get some exercise
(L) You don’t even need to leave the house. I’ve been doing PE with Joe every morning on YouTube at 9am. It’s great (well, really hard!) but the release of endorphins gives me extra energy for the day ahead. There are also a whole host of pilates and yoga videos on YouTube.
(H) …and some sunshine! 10 minutes by a sunny window or on a small balcony is so good for the head and the heart.
Plan connection time
(L) By this I mean prioritise connecting with at least one friend or family member everyday. Loneliness is a major player in depression or low mood and so prioritising a connection with someone each day will help. Ideally it needs to be someone who you can be honest with and share how you’re feeling. This is so important. When I had depression this was crucial for me, as even though I didn’t feel I was giving anything to the relationship, I was able to be heard and felt less alone. Joining a Connect Group will be really helpful as well as being part of a group should provide a sense of belonging and support.
(H) In lots of ways everybody doing everything online is great, because there’s no chance of FOMO! As I have struggled with Chronic Fatigue syndrome for some time, it’s often been challenging to be stuck at home while everyone else is out doing fun things. Now we’re all at home and it’s been great to use this time to catch up with friends in the evenings. It’s definitely not the same as sharing a meal around the same table, but it has allowed for some good contact points in what could otherwise have been a lonely time.
Focus on God
(L) There are some great resources out there to listen to or read. Why not try the Lectio 365 morning devotional? I’ve also been regularly praying the short prayer “Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me”. As I inhale I say, “Jesus, Son of God”, and as I do this I visualise myself breathing in all of God’s goodness and peace. I then exhale and say, “have mercy on me”. As I do this I picture myself breathing out any anxiety, fear or tiredness. This really helps to reset me.
(H) In these tumultuous times, I’ve found myself wanting to shelter in the truth of God’s word. I have been focusing on God’s character, which is unchanging. Using Andrew Wilson’s excellent book Incomparable I’ve spent a few minutes every day meditating on an aspect of God’s character. There are also loads of great talks in the Christ Church London archives. The Prince of Peace series could be a great option if you are feeling anxious.
Reach out for help
(L) If you’re struggling in any way, reach out to a friend, Connect Group leader, Service leader or the Pastoral Support team. We have a team across London who can be available on the other end of the phone if you want to talk and pray with someone.
Consider doing STEPS
(L) There are online STEPS courses starting in April. STEPS is a 12 week course designed to help you work through patterns of behaviour that are holding you back in some way. I am doing the course at the moment for the fourth time, and each time I do it I find it so helpful. I have valued doing it as part of a community of others working through different challenges, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s not easy but very worthwhile.
Lou and Helen are both part of our staff team at Christ Church London, and Lou leads our pastoral Support team across our six services. To find out more or receive support, you can contact [email protected], or click some of the links below.