Just in case you’ve been in the desert and cut off from the rest of society for the past few weeks, let me be the first to tell you that the world has officially turned upside down! With all of the craziness surrounding COVID-19 and, depending on where you live, earthquakes, quarantines, toilet paper shortages, and general panic seem to have stricken our world. So how are we to cope?
I’ll be honest, as an introvert I’m not struggling with this quaratine as much as my more extroverted friends. With technology, I’m able to be in touch with my friends and family at least as much as I was before. The women of my small group have been using a video chat app to keep in touch and it’s funny because we are communicating now on a daily basis more than we did before we were all confined to our homes! Yes, I was disappointed to have to spend my birthday isolated from everyone last week and I am super bummed that the rest of the rugby season has been cancelled, but I know that it’s for the best and I want to do what I can to help prevent the spread of this virus that seems to have taken over the world.
I’ve been using this time of isolation to catch up on paperwork for my main job, learn the new skill of providing occupational therapy services via telehealth for my second job, and to rest. As an introvert, I’m comfortable with being by myself, so extroverts, here are some tips on how to survive your COVID isolation.
- Catch up on something you’ve been meaning to do, but “haven’t had the time to do.”
I don’t know about you, but I always have chores that I need to do around the house. Do I do them? Sometimes, but usually I’m too tired from the stress and physicality of my jobs to put forth any more mental and physical effort to complete what needs to get done. Yesterday, I was sitting on my patio and noticed all of the weeds that had sprung up because of the recent rains. So I did some yard work. I bought 12 small succulent plants back in November and I have not had the energy or the will to actually plant them in the container that I had purchased for them. So I used the free time I had yesterday to take care of some of the things that I had been putting off. Right now there’s just no excuse, so get done what needs to get done before you return to your regularly scheduled, hectic daily life.
- Read a book
I’m a big fan of reading, but you could also listen to an audiobook if you’re not a reader. Reading allows you to use your imagination and tap into your own inner creativity. If you prefer reading non-fiction, this is a great time to learn about something new! Find a comfortable chair inside or outside (gotta get some Vitamin D afterall) and tune out the world around you while you focus solely on one thing for a period of time. We are often so used to multitasking (watching TV, while answering emails, cooking, and trying to take out the trash) that we lose our ability to focus on just one thing and doing that one thing well. So take some pressure off of yourself and focus on reading one story while you lose yourself in a book.
I find it easier to process through things by writing, one of the many reasons why I started a blog. I have found journaling to be a great way to connect with God by journaling my prayers. Writing the thoughts and prayers in my head out on paper helps me to focus on what I’m doing. If I try to process through things in my own head, I get distracted by other rogue thoughts that pop up and take my attention away. Whether you journal to write out and process how you’re feeling about all of the crazy things going on in the world today, or if you write out your prayers to help you focus on what you want to say to God, journaling can be a great use of your time and help you to reconnect with God and yourself.
- Learn something new
I always have great intentions of starting a new hobby, but rarely have the energy or time to follow through with it. I’ve taken up sewing, painting, candle making, various crafty things, learning a new language, and so on over the past few years. I’ve decided to focus on learning a new language for the time being, although I may do some sewing as well over the coming weeks. This is the perfect time to discover something new or follow through with something that you’ve always wanted to learn more about. Keep those brain cells firing and don’t give in the urge to binge watch everything on Netflix while slowly turning into a couch potato.
- Go for a walk and reconnect with nature
Depending on the rules for the quarantine/ isolation guidelines where you live you may or may not be able to do this one. I live in California and we have all been ordered to stay at home, but we are allowed to leave to go outside to get necessary supplies (like food) and walk or go for a hike as long as we are following the rules of “social distancing” which means staying 6 feet away from other people. When we get so caught up in the hectic pace of our regular lives, we tend to forget to stop and “smell the roses.” So use this time to go for a walk, sit in your yard or on your patio/balcony and just listen to what nature is doing around you. Even if you live in a city, watch for the birds, look at the trees that may be blooming outside your window, and give thanks to God for His beautiful creation.
Our typical daily lives are often frantic, loud, and full of distractions. We may pray for a few minutes at the beginning or end of the day and maybe go through a few “thank you” or “please God” messages during the day, but how often do you actually sit in God’s presence and pray? How often do you really sit with Him and not only talk at God, but put forth the effort to truly listen to His responses? This is a great time to truly connect with God. Take the time to sit in His presence. Take the time to talk with God. Take the time to listen to what He has probably been trying to say to you, but you’ve been too busy to hear. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for the doctors, nurses, delivery people, and grocery store workers who are working long, hard hours to keep us healthy and stocked up on the necessary supplies we need to survive.
And don’t forget to continue praying with your church community, even though we can’t physically connect with each other, we can still be texting, video chatting, and emailing each other. Or, here’s a novel idea, we can even… wait for it… call each other on the phone to pray with our church community! Crazy isn’t it?
- Be Still
“Be still and know that I am God.” ~ Psalm 46:10
This quarantine has reminded me of the importance of being still. Our modern lives are full of distractions that pull us away from what truly matters. It’s not to say that all of the activities we do each day aren’t good things, but they are often things that distract us from taking the time to rest and be in God’s presence. We don’t fully appreciate that God truly is right next to us with every step we take, every tear we shed, every word we say because we’re busy running from our job to our volunteering gig, to our small group, to our family dinner and God ends up as more of an afterthought. So use this time to just be still. Allow God to rest and restore your mind, your body, and your soul and you will come out the other side of this quarantine a stronger warrior for His cause.
- Find peace in God and His promises
“Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:5-7
I fully understand that these are scary times full of unknowns about the future. The threat of a potentially lethal infection is not something to take lightly, however, it’s also important to remember who’s actually in charge. There’s no need to panic and worry (and trust me, I’m the queen of panic and worry). The economy will take a hit, people will get sick, you may even get sick, but God is right here with us through it all. He is in control and He is going to use this time for His good. I don’t believe that God caused this virus to run rampant across the world, but I do believe that He will get us through this.
While I have no idea what’s going to happen in the coming months and this experience will undoubtedly alter our society going forward, I hope and pray that you will use this time wisely. Be still and spend time with God. Connect with your friends and family in responsible and creative ways. Put your faith in God and allow His peace to overwhelm your heart rather than the panic on social media. And remember the words of Jeremiah.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11
God knows what your life will hold in the coming months and He is in control of it all.