Tag Archives: easing restrictions

LIFE AFTER LOCKDOWN. *A Breath Of Fresh Air*.

*A Breath of Fresh Air*.

The coronavirus pandemic has stolen far too many people’s ability to breathe. It is a virus that can have a devastating impact upon the human respiratory system, however, it is not just the virus itself that has stifled many people’s lives.

The consequences of the virus, and the resultant public health policies and initiatives that countries across the world have rightly taken to stem the spread of the virus, has meant that for some, or perhaps for many, and maybe yourself included, a time of enforced lockdown has also made people feel like they can’t ‘breathe’ fully in some way or another.

The things that may have left some people feeling stifled or not being able to breathe in life fully may be physical, or a combination of the physical, emotional, psychological and other factors.

I know some people who have ‘sailed through’ lockdown as it meant time off from the busy pace of everyday life, more time to spend with their family at home, more flexible work-life balance, time to enjoy the fresh air and to spend time with home and garden projects or personal hobbies that they had wanted to do for a while.

Unfortunately, for many of us, things have not been so easy. Perhaps like me you went through 4 months of lockdown alone, and didn’t have any personal garden space to safely enjoy the outdoors, but instead had to navigate the concerns of staying safe in a block of flats and only managed to go outside for a short walk perhaps once every three weeks. Maybe you’ve had issues with your job, income, family, health, loneliness, anxiety, and so forth.

Now that in many places around the world restrictions have been beginning to ease, and also in certain places been reinstated because of covid-19 ‘spikes’, many people have taken the opportunity to get out and breathe in more of life.

In an increasingly busy world, it can be hard to find quiet spaces in nature. However, I personally feel that this is so important to our overall health and well being, in so many ways. As restrictions ease it is a good opportunity to think of ways we can safely find quiet natural places even if that means just a few minutes somewhere where the air is clean and we can hear birds singing and see the ebb and flow of natural life around us. Many of you may have been blessed to have had this all through lockdown, but many of us have not. It is important to find safe and responsible ways to do these things without travelling too far or unnecessarily and without putting other people or ourselves at risk.

Even in busy cities, there are places where there are trees or quieter areas that can have a calming effect, even if you are not so fortunate to have your own or access to some garden space.

However, going forwards, we need to think of ways in which we can breathe Life in more deeply, cleanly and freely, apart from those ways that relate to our environment.

Fundamentally, what is it that gives us the breath of life? What refreshes us deep in our soul when we cannot get out to nature or other such things? For me it Is only the Life Giving and Beautiful Presence, the Streams of Living Water from The Living God that can satisfy my soul. Only Jesus Christ’s sweet and refreshing Presence can enable me to Breathe in Life deeply and freely regardless of environment or circumstances or anything else.

And what about the other areas of our lives that we have had the chance to think about during lockdown? What, perhaps less fundamental, things help us to breathe in life more deeply, satisfy us and give us a sense of well being? As we transition (perhaps back in and out of) from lockdown, what are the things that will help us to live more fully and live less stifled lives?

Is it choosing not to worry, but to exercise our muscles of faith? Is it maintaining and caring for our bodies by getting rest, sleep, exercise, healthy food and nutrition? Is it by connecting or reconnecting with people that mutually enrich our lives rather than drag us down or cause conflict? Is it spending a few minutes a day with our hobbies, slowing down, taking time to enjoy the little things, as the cliches go, to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ or to ‘stop and smell the roses’? Is it taking time to read and find ways to look after our mental health? To continue reaching out to help, encourage and inspire others? To include more creativity in our lives? To make time for the people and things that really matter?

As we move forwards, we are all in different ways, and to differing extents, searching for purer, cleaner, and more refreshing air to breathe.

What are you looking to to find this in your own life? What time, space and opportunities do you have and how will you use them as we all move forwards into hopefully not just a ‘new normal’ but a ‘better normal’?

Stay safe. Be blessed. x

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Life After Lockdown – *Things Haven’t Changed for Everyone*.

*Things haven’t changed for everyone*

Looking for the rainbows through the coronavirus storms, I was encouraged by how many people initially reached out to others who were in need at the start of lockdown. Many of you have been faithfully doing what you can to use your abilities to help and serve other people.

It can be easy to lose sight of that as things change. Many of us have had time to reflect upon the ways in which we don’t want things to go ‘back to normal’. While we are compelled to walk into a ‘new normal’ we also have the opportunity to forge out a better way of living life as a society.

The risk is that as we go back into society, we lose sight of the lessons we have collectively learned about humility, giving, self sacrifice (especially those front line workers who gave up time with their family, even gave their own lives to help others), kindness, compassion and taking time to think and advocate for others.

I’m hoping that we will see a shift in heart attitudes and behaviour. I’m wondering whether we might see some of those positive changes reflected in how we shop and our behaviour collectively at Christmas this year for example. I hope we’ve collectively had a ‘change of heart’, but then we do still contend with the tendencies to hoard (toilet paper?!) and look out mainly for ourselves.

As restrictions ease and many of us will enjoy greater freedoms, it’s good to bear in mind that there are still people for whom things haven’t changed much. People who have been shielding for instance and who don’t feel confident enough to risk their own health by going out, people who may have had more contact online but don’t have connections in real life and who may become forgotten about once people start ‘getting back to normal’. We’ve learned lessons about prejudice, about vulnerability, about mental health, homelessness and hardships in our society, and had more time than our previous busy lives would have allowed to take it all in. Many of us have cared deeply and tried to do something to help.

Now, however, it can become all too easy to forget. To become self-focused as we get excited perhaps about the things we can do once more. Not everyone will be in that position. While we can’t save the world, we can bring kindness to it. We can be intentional in thinking about those in our friendship groups who won’t have families to connect with, or may have to continue to stay indoors for various reasons. Some may be grieving the loss of loved ones from the coronavirus. We can take time to remember the causes for social justice that we were touched by and patiently, humbly continue to do what is right.

So, to sum it all up, let’s allow the deeper lessons we have learned to stay with us, to take the opportunity to make the ‘new normal’ into a ‘better normal’, and to keep remembering to think of others for whom life will still be hard, and to be kind to ourselves and each other in the process. 

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Life After Lockdown – Think and Plan Ahead.

*Think and plan ahead*.

At this moment in time I am writing while feeling pretty ‘woozy’ 🥴 . I’ve got that feeling of being on a boat that is being rocked side to side by the waves, and while it is getting difficult to concentrate or to keep my equilibrium I have experienced this, and even stronger sensations, so many times that logically I can tell myself that this discomfort will pass, and the waves will be stilled. Peace will return again. In the meantime, I can choose to persevere through it, or let it overwhelm me. Making the right choice takes practice when something is a frequent feature of our lives.

There is a certain amount of discomfort that we will have to learn to adjust to and persevere through in our ‘new normal’ post-lockdown. It will take time, thought, planning and practice to make certain adjustments.

If the ‘world out there’ and the ‘new normal’ all seem a bit overwhelming for some of you, then try to break things down into smaller, more manageable pieces.

Remember that you can only live one day at a time, moment by moment, therefore it won’t benefit you to worry about tomorrow, or the next day, or a year from now. Plan and prepare, but get into the practice of choosing not to worry.

In ‘normal’ (pre-lockdown) life I struggle with sensory overload. I could be standing in a supermarket and the sound of more than one conversation, or music playing, or people walking past can throw my wee brain out of kilter! It’s the same with most situations for me, so I’ve had to learn to cope and adapt and it is an ongoing challenge. Maybe you don’t have to experience things like that in your day to day life, but perhaps the adjustments of a world post-lockdown feel unsettling to you and make you feel a bit muddled yourself (you’d be in good company 😉 ). If so, try thinking ahead, planning for the different situations you might encounter, take some time to read and think about what some of the new legal requirements are (such as being aware that non-compliance regarding the use of face masks in certain situations will result in a hefty fine in some places) so that you won’t be caught off guard. Keep the essentials handy (face masks, hand sanitizers, etc) until the ‘new normal’ becomes part of your normal.

And if anxiety about life post-lockdown feels like something you don’t have to worry about, then that is great, but recognise that there may be people all around you who will struggle or feel overwhelmed, so try to help and encourage them.

Having a bit of a mental ‘road map’ will help you prepare for the situations you might face and help you adjust to what might at the moment be making you feel uncomfortable, uncertain (or ‘woozy’! 😉 ).

And remember, when all is said and done, we can each only live one day at a time, so don’t take on the mental and emotional burdens of unknown tomorrows, even as you plan ahead. 

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*Gather your thoughts*.

It’s 14th July 2020, and we’ve well passed the half way point of this year. I’ve no doubt at all that our thoughts at the start of this year as to what we might be doing or what the world would look like were very different to what has actually transpired in our personal and collective experiences.

I remember, at the start of the year, writing down a list of EU countries that I haven’t been to that I’d like to travel to before the practical changes related to ‘Brexit’ (remember that?!) come into force. We may well make plans, but we cannot put our Trust in those plans. This year has definitely been a collective lesson in that.

I don’t know anyone who thought we’d be living through a pandemic in 2020. The year ‘2020’ sounded much too ‘perfect’, too well rounded, ‘visionary’, and aspirational for anything like that. How wrong we all were.

However, let’s not ‘right this year off’ just yet, if that’s what you feel inclined to do. While there have been challenges and struggles and disappointments, there have also been opportunities to learn, grow, reflect and change.

We’re at a change point (in UK at least), where having been in lockdown for the past 4 months, restrictions are beginning to ease and society is gradually ‘opening up’ once more. Yet, what we are phasing back into isn’t quite the same as what we knew before. We now inhabit a world of the infamous ‘new normal’ that we’re all still trying to adjust to – a world of facemasks, social / physical distancing, R numbers, ‘coughing etiquette’, ‘elbow bumps’ as greetings, planned and limited interactions, and other changes to our daily lives.

Some people are excited to get back out into the world, while others find the prospect daunting, especially as the coronavirus is not yet a thing of the past.

I think at this point in time, especially if we are struggling with anxiety, apprehension, uncertainty and reluctance, it is important to take time to reframe our thoughts.

I’ve been doing this, in part, by putting together a little craft / keepsake journal to help me process and make sense of this year. Something that helps me see the positives, the lessons learned and the accomplishments that have blossomed through an otherwise collectively concerning and challenging year. By looking back to reframe our view of the year so far, we will be in a better position to look forwards as we approach what lies ahead.

We face unknowns and uncertainties as we ease out of lockdown – however, we also faced unknowns and uncertainties at the start of this process, and we have all made it through, despite the ups and downs we might have faced along the way.

While for some, reintegrating into society sounds exciting and appealing, for others, especially with underlying and pre-existing conditions in which anxiety plays a part, change can be daunting.

We’ve learned to plan, to take one step at a time, to put one foot in front of another, to encourage each other. As we approach more changes, we still have time to reflect on what we have learned so far, how we have grown, and how these lessons will help us as we take the next steps.

Taking a bit of time to gather your thoughts will help as we make our way through the muddle that we often may feel we are in. Structuring these times of reflections to think about one issue at a time will help to make things feel more manageable. Bringing creativity into the process can help us to think more positively about how we will approach what comes next, with wisdom, intention, and with care, hopefully in a way that will equip us to help other people too.

Lockdown Life Lessons (3). (Interactive Series).

As we move into the third instalment of this interactive series of reflection prompts, today’s question will hopefully help and encourage you to recognise your developing strengths and abilities during this time of global change.

Prompt 3:

Think of some positive things this time of lockdown / quarantine / restrictions has taught you about yourself that you didn’t know, or weren’t as aware of before.

Write down some thoughts about what you have learned about yourself.

Do you find this one difficult to get started on? Try breaking this big concept into smaller, more tangible parts. For example, think of your living situation. Have you spent lockdown alone or with others? What qualities were you able to notice or develop in this situation? For example, did you surprise yourself with selflessness, acts of kindness and patience towards others, being thoughtful and respectful of other people’s needs? Or did you discover a resilience you didn’t know you had to ‘tough it out’ all on your own?

Have you discovered a new skill that you wouldn’t have had the chance to develop before? For instance, did circumstances throw you into an unfamiliar world of home schooling your kids, if you have any? Did you become more resourceful in managing finances, food, and household maintenance? Were you able to share your expertise with other people and in doing so see new aspects of yourself? Did you get to grips with new forms of technology and communication? Did you take part or take initiative in helping people in your community in some way? Did you fundraise, did you inspire others, or did you develop new ways to keep yourself fit, healthy and occupied?

Remembering that we’ve all been living through a pandemic, the positive things you have learned about yourself, or developed further, needn’t be ‘big’ things. Things you might not have paid much attention to before do have a significance and an importance, no matter how small. Perhaps you’ve been the caring friend who has ‘lent an ear’ when someone needed to get in touch, maybe you’ve made facemasks and PPE for key workers, or maybe you’ve kept on keeping on through depression, anxiety, fear or weariness, and just kept ‘showing up’ for yourself and those around you in whatever small and seemingly ‘ordinary’ way you can.

Take a moment to jot down a few thoughts taking into consideration something positive or new you have learned about yourself throughout this time.

So perhaps you are wondering what I might choose to share. I’ve learned that I had the resilience to manage lockdown with almost zero human company (in person – I’m very thankful for technology that allows phone calls and communication with others) for almost 100 days. It was in fact 96 days of almost complete solitude. It wasn’t always easy, but I did it, and without the lockdown / quarantine situation, I probably never would have done this. I chose to press through the difficulties and be positive and helpful to others where I could, and learned that I can cope in isolation. We are allowed to encourage ourselves for getting through some challenging situations.

So take a moment to acknowledge something about yourself and tuck that lesson away like a treasure in your heart, so that when you think back over 2020, you will take some positive things with you as you press on. ❤

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Small Steps Forwards…

We’ve all been living through a time of change and of readjustments. For some, such changes have been drastic and even life changing, for others the changes have been adapting to new routines and day to day restrictions.

And here we all are, once again, facing change as societies across the world venture into adapting to a ‘new normal’ and gradually or perhaps in some places more dramatically, moving forwards.

So, how do you feel about all of these major and minor adjustments in your own life? Has lockdown helped you to learn more about yourself and how you cope with and adapt to changes? Does the prospect of a ‘new normal’ feel daunting to you? Have you spent your time in a kind of hiatus and now are looking to re-engage with your life in more meaningful ways, yet don’t quite know how to go about it?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many people have varying degrees of anxiety specifically about moving forwards with all of the societal changes we’ve been facing particularly around the coronavirus.

You might be facing challenges around your employment, you might have to physically leave your home and commute to get to your work and all these things can be quite daunting.

But those things aside, what about finding ways to keep moving forwards in your personal growth? Perhaps you have had more time to focus on such matters during lockdown, or perhaps things have been too busy that you have had to let such things take a back seat.

As you look to moving forwards, think of those small and simple steps that you can take to get back into things.

Maybe, like me, you had more pressing priorities during lockdown and you haven’t been able to blog for a while. Try taking the small step forwards of dipping your toe back into the water and writing a short post. And then keep going as and when you can.

Maybe you need to look after your body better after spending a long spell of time indoors. Start today with something manageable, a bit of exercise, even if 5 minutes is all you can manage, and build it up from there.

Do you feel like you’ve been disconnected from people and don’t know how to re-engage with society? Think about reaching out to a trusted friend, take that first step, ask how someone else is doing, and allow things to take shape in their own way and time, even if that means facing silence or rejection. At least you will have tried, and you can take some confidence from that to keep trying to take new steps.

Does going outside seem daunting? Start small. Plan a short walk, be prepared with all your health and safety measures and gradually ease yourself back into the outside world.

Do you feel like you’ve been overly preoccupied or worried with certain aspects of your life? Try to do something that will help your mind move in a more positive direction. Perhaps you could read a book, do a crossword, have a conversation with someone positive, do something you enjoy.

Do you find the thought of doing certain things daunting? Can you reach out to a friend and share those thoughts with them? Maybe they feel the same, and maybe you can mutually help each other face those changes together.

Wherever you are at, there is no doubt that things always feel more overwhelming when we try to tackle them all in one go. Instead of seeing the mountain before you as a challenge to conquer, see the mountain and just take that one next step. We each can only live one moment at a time, yet all of these little moments add up and shape our choices and the direction of our lives.

Has it been a while since you have prayed? Start now. Have you forgotten gratitude? Write down three things you are grateful for today. Have you found it difficult to blog and are struggling to know how to come back to things? Write a paragraph, post a picture, share the little that is in your hand today, knowing and believing that someone else may benefit from it. Life is full, but we have to participate. We have to reach up in faith to find what we are meant to do and be on this earth while we have the chance. I look up to Jesus everyday, for all the Fulness of Life, Love, Goodness and Truth Is found in Him. And He Who holds all things together, also cares about the tiniest of details. So start small, start in faith and see where those small beginnings might lead you. Perhaps on the adventure of your lifetime! x

Before The Restrictions End…

It’s been quite a year so far, hasn’t it?!

I remember towards the end of 2019 I was writing a lot, blogging about ways to stay safe and well during the winter seasons, I think I may even have called my long series of posts a ‘winter survival guide’.

This year, the words ‘stay safe and well’ and ‘survival’ seem to be on everyone’s lips, and have taken on a different meaning with the novel experience of living through a pandemic.

All across the world countries have been forced to react to the coronavirus, something that has been termed as humanity’s ‘common enemy’, affecting people all across the globe, irrespective of borders, time zones, or any other of our usual ‘limitations’.

Who could have known, at the start of 2020 – a year which sounded so ‘perfect’ and which many people referenced as the year of 20-20 ‘Vision’ – that the world would be struck with a pandemic that started out in an outdoor market and slowly but relentlessly spread from country to country, and across the continents, leaving very few places untouched?

If you had asked people at the start of the year what they envisaged for their lives in 2020, some would have said they hoped to travel more, to graduate from school, college or university, to get married, to build up their businesses, to visit new places, to work on their careers, to spend more time with their families, to start a family.

What was on your list of hopes and dreams at the start of the year?

Did anyone include something like ‘to slow down and learn to appreciate life more’?

Many of us have spent extended periods of time in ‘lockdown’, in a whole variety of situations according to our unique circumstances. Yet one thing you often hear is that the enforced time away from our usual routines and busyness has caused many people to reflect on their lives, to ‘take stock’ of what is truly important and to reconsider their priorities and how they have been spending their time.

We are now gradually, across the world, albeit at different rates, trying to establish what has been deemed as a ‘new normal’, to venture back out into the world again and to try to re-engage with society so far and as safe as it is to do so in our own countries and circumstances.

Restrictions still remain in place in a variety of ways, but we slowly see them easing. Before the restrictions end, will you take a little bit of time to consider what you have gleaned from your reflections of life during lockdown?

How have your priorities changed, if at all? Are there things or influences you need to let go of, or reprioritise? And fundamentally, what is the foundation upon which you have been building your life? Will it stand the test of time, of changing circumstances, and ultimately even of death?

I personally know that the only sure foundation to build our lives and eternities upon is the Rock of Jesus Christ. He Alone Is Unchanging and Unshakeable – even in death.

Perhaps this is something you have been pondering or would like to ponder.

Wherever you are in life, or however ‘easy’ or difficult lockdown has been for you, there is little doubt that it would have caused you to stop and think.

Some people seem in such a rush and a hurry to get back into the busy ways of society, but they risk losing out on the very important lessons that have or could have been learned during this unusual phase in our lives, and indeed in world history.

What has caused you to stop and think?

What changes do you feel compelled to make?

What are you more deeply grateful for?

What foundation are you building your life upon?

These are just a few of the questions that we would do well to delve more deeply into while we have the time, before restrictions end.

Love and Peace to you all. x

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