“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” — Mark Twain
There is much humor in that thought but it can be costly to practice. There is a natural tendency to put things off when you know that there is no particular deadline or emergency at hand. Just ask many of us retirees about that. Currently, there is no particular need to be in a hurry so it is easy to take advantage of that fact. Of course there is a danger in practicing procrastination. It might lead to lethargy and the loss of a sense of purpose. Keeping a routine is especially important during this time of isolation in order to maintain some semblance of control, definition of time and a feeling of being grounded, of you being you. It will also help to alleviate boredom. BALANCE, as always, is recommended. The undone tasks will be there tomorrow but if you make it a priority to do some detail or piece each day you may get it done before we are back to more scheduled activities. It is not a time to take a break but rather to remain faithful to some form of exercise, healthful eating (although doing otherwise can be comforting and especially tempting) and maintaining a good sleep routine.
We are social creatures so we may wonder if this period of prolonged isolation is good for us? It can be, in some ways and to some extent. Attitude of course plays an important role.
A sense of self shifts when we are less connected to others, to our outside activities and to social obligations. Of course we are interconnected and need to be, but for some there is an unusually strong need or desire to have others reflect and validate them. This may be an especially challenging time for them. They in particular may need to reach out. But for all of us, while being less connected to others, our jobs and obligations, there is an opportunity to take stock of what really matters to us.
Our Calvary community does a wonderful job of reaching out to others, through social media, mail and phone calls. Each of us is challenged to continue that practice even more now and we are meeting that challenge! Spiritually, we are being given an opportunity to expand God’s love within us by reaching out in new ways to others. Our creativity has been tapped in new ways and it is giving us new means of reaching out to others so that they and we are reminded that we are loved and not alone.
We are social creatures but can this period of isolation be good for us? It can be in some ways and to some extent. This distancing may be a time to learn new skills, habits, and means of coping.
In other words, isolation may be a time to learn more about you. Being forced to slow down offers an opportunity to see ourselves more clearly, to learn about ourselves and what is most meaningful to us, if we don’t already know. You may not be a person who journals or who spends a lot to time being introspective but now might be the time to do that. At least take time to be an observer. Not only might you make an observation of your mental state but in your spiritual life as well. Just take note of your observations. Don’t make judgments about them or yourself. Just take time to observe and listen, listen to God, to your self talk, your soul. You may be inclined or inspired to make some changes.
You might take the opportunity to look at some of your habits or means of coping.
Perhaps you might become aware of:
- ways in which you sometimes use avoidance techniques,
- how you deal with stress,
- how you use your talents,
- how you deal with uncertainty,
- how you practice patience (or not),
- how you stay connected to others, and
- how you love.
This is a time to slow down, be present and find simple joy and gratitude in the moment.
Above all else try not to panic. Pray often, breathe deeply, continue to reach out to others. And by all means practice prudence with regard to the recommended guidelines for keeping yourself and others safe.
Jim Patten, a former minister at Calvary offered the following:
When practicing deep breathing you might use a meaningful mantra such as: God (or Jesus Christ) You are the Light of the World. Fill my mind with your peace, my heart with your love.
I will welcome your emails and phone calls to stay in touch.
My confidential, dedicated counseling phone number is: 724-541-4857
My private e-mail is: Chris.Butler42@comcast.net.