Tag Archives: Health

The pandemic continues…hang in there…keep your head up, and your heart strong…

Dear friends,

When I started this blog in 2017 I never could have imagined that just a few years later I’d be writing blogs to encourage people through a global pandemic. I don’t think any of us could have imagined such a thing. If you look back through my ‘archives’ of posts to early 2020, you would see posts all about 2020 vision, hopeful posts and plans to perhaps travel. In the UK the big news story at the time was Brexit and I had in mind that I’d like if possible to travel to the European countries that I hadn’t yet got the chance to visit. In Australia I think the big story was about the bush fires. Oh my, friends, how much we have seen and heard of since then!

I don’t know which country you live in, but the whole world in 2020 was coming to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, after that there have been variations in how individual countries, and even states, deal with things. It has been a challenging time for many. Just as we were feeling that maybe if we can get through winter there might be more settled days ahead, we hear of a new variant, Omicron I believe it is called, that has taken hold in some countries and might possibly be the next variant of concern leading to another pandemic.

I won’t get into the ‘ins and outs’ of that as I realise my readers may have different opinions, but on a personal level I just want to reach out to you with some encouragement.

You’re not alone. I realise these are uncertain days, but try to lift up your minds and thoughts to what is Greater. Find hope in your everyday in some small way. I have written a whole series of blog posts, possibly nearing a hundred posts on surviving the pandemic, so no doubt there will be something that I wrote back then that will be applicable or helpful to you today.

Today, know that you’re not alone. You are loved. My hope is in Jesus Christ, the source of True Love. Even though in this world there is trouble, He has overcome the world. He will walk with us through it.

No matter what you think or believe right now, just know that if you are finding things challenging right now, you are not alone. Try to move slowly through your day. It’s easy to say, right? It’s easy to say try not to worry when as human beings we are prone to worry, but just think of all the tools and techniques you have learned over the past year or two in the pandemic (or more, through your life) and remind yourself of how far you have come, and keep going. If you are doing well right now, remind yourself that there are many others who aren’t and seek in some small way each day to show kindness, encouragement and love.

Even on the blogging community we can do this, we can help and encourage one another with our words – words are so powerful, life and death are in the power of the tongue so think of how incredible it could be if we all speak life to each other and encourage each other in these days.

Talk to someone. Share your burdens, ask for help if need be.

Revisit your hobbies or try something new if you don’t have any. It is important to keep our minds occupied because we hear so much in the news that can affect us negatively. It’s important to be informed and wise about keeping ourselves and others safe, but it’s also important to be aware of how things affect us.

Take it one day at a time, one step at a time.

That’s my word of encouragement, because I know we all need it.

Sending virtual hugs and much love to you all.

God bless. Stay safe. Take care. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (78): Keep At It…

There’s no doubt about it, life can be tough sometimes. Perhaps you’re reading my blog series on self care in a pandemic precisely because you are finding things challenging and need some comfort, encouragement, advice and guidance.

When our thoughts, emotions and brokenness inside feel too much we can sometimes allow ourselves to give up on doing things that are actually good for us. Things such as eating well, taking exercise, getting fresh air, sleeping, getting showered and dressed in the morning and connecting with other people. For Christians it is essential that we stay ‘abiding’ in Christ as He teaches us, as He Is The True Source of Pure and Eternal Life, not just existence but radiant refreshing Love and Life that gives life to our souls, and a Love that holds us through the storms. Apart from Him we can do nothing (of true and lasting spiritual and eternal value) and we become like withered branches whereas by drinking from the Source of pure life we are able to bear spiritual fruit even in difficult seasons. We do this by spending time with Jesus and feeding on the Word of God and relying on the Holy Spirit to make us alive to The Living Word, and change us from the inside out (even if at times this means a difficult ‘pruning’ away of the bad bits so that He can fill us with His Spirit and heal us).

There are things we know are good for us whether on a physical and / or a spiritual level and sometimes we may allow these to slip when we are struggling or feeling burdened by life or by our own thoughts, feelings, inner wounds and traumas.

Maybe you know it is good to do a certain thing but it feels like you are sinking. If that’s where you are at, please just keep at it. Easier said than done, I know, but even if you just do a little bit at a time then you will be doing something good for yourself.

If you are struggling with your mental health just now, keep at it. Keep reading my blog, even if just a little at a time. Keep drinking water, even if a little at a time. Keep in touch with people, even if a little at a time. Keep feeding your mind on good things, and positive messages and affirming your worth as a human being, even if a little at a time. I know this isn’t easy. Even this morning I had traumatic images and words coming into my mind and I have to allow God to heal me bit by bit in His perfect way and timing. And I also have a part to play in renewing my mind. We may not be where we want to be just now but perhaps we have already come a long way. If damage was done to your mind and personhood over several years or even decades or even if just in an instant and that deeply affected you then it may take a bit of time and consistent effort to create new positive tracks of thought, neural pathways and physical reactions. I can rest in knowing God Is in control and can bring His Beauty from the ashes of this world and the things that happen to us in life. Sometimes things take time, recovery takes time, and just making it through the day well or making it through this pandemic season will take time.

Don’t despair, don’t lose heart, don’t feel that because you can’t do it all just now it’s not worth it. Keep at it friends. Little by little, bit by bit, moment by moment, day by day.

Do something kind for yourself or for someone else. Don’t stop taking those steps forwards, don’t stop believing, and even if you can’t make it all the way through a task, at least you tried and did a little bit. That’s important. One more step along the world I go….

With much love, and praying for you to have strength to keep moving forwards today. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (54): Work From Home & Weekends…

Hi Friends,

I hope that you have had a safe, healthy and peaceful first week of 2021. I hope that if you have faced challenges along the way that you are digging deep and finding a resilience within yourself to persevere and a faith to look beyond yourself for greater strength.

Although this post title aims at those among us who are now or currently working from home in this pandemic, I think some of the main principles can apply to all of us. It can be easy when there is no physical boundary between work and home life to let the psychological boundaries blur a bit.

Have you ever heard people say, leave your work at work and don’t bring the burdens of the office (or other work place setting) home with you? That can be a huge challenge in and of itself, but what about when work and home are in one and the same setting?

Some of you may also be trying to juggle home working with daily routines and other aspects of family life such as child care, parental care, home schooling / education and the list is as endless and unique as the differences in our lives.

Whatever your scenario, it is important to have some emotional and mental boundaries even when you can’t have concrete physical boundaries. Just as we looked at in previous posts about the importance of having boundaries between ourselves and our news intake and also boundaries in relationships and in other things that might be emotionally or mentally demanding, we also need to establish healthy boundaries between the different aspects of our lives.

Some things at work this first week back have been bothering me, but I need to remind myself that the weekend is a time when I would normally be away from the office physically. Although with home working I could check my work emails when I couldn’t before after leaving the office, it is important not to allow the boundaries to blur too much.

If we are to care for ourselves we need to set aside time to nourish ourselves, to rest, to spend time with the people who we love and who love us whether in person or online or by telephone or some other means so that we can be recharged and ready for the week ahead.

During lockdown I’ve been so fortunate in that my church has had online services that have been broadcast on You Tube. This has helped to remind me of when it is Sunday and to purposefully set aside that time as I normally would. I’ve had more time to set aside during the days as well for time with God, prayer, worship and building myself up spiritually and sharing with others.

However, sometimes we can get caught up in things as the days and weeks go by. The past year has been a challenging one globally and the recent events of January 2021 for anyone who has been watching the news and seeing the …..(pause to try to think of an appropriate word)….indescribable events in America, we know that there may be challenging times ahead for the world in 2021.

We need to maintain our wellbeing and resilience, and we all have a variety of commitments, duties and tasks to attend to in our daily lives. Maintaining mental and emotional boundaries between these is so important.

As the days go by I will continue to share tips and ideas with you regarding what I find helpful that you may also find helpful. However, this post is more of a general reminder as we reach the close of week one of 2021 that this is an important point and aspect of your life to bear in mind.

People will try to encroach upon you even from a distance, even when working or studying from home. It is ok and it is good to give and take but don’t become depleted of your strength and resilience. Don’t let things blur together so that you are no longer demarcating time for yourself to rest, recharge and recover so that you can become stronger and stronger for the days ahead.

So on that note, I wish you all a happy weekend. Thankfully I don’t see blogging as work but as enjoyment, so you can expect to hear from me again very soon for more encouragement and reminders that it is important to care for yourself as well through this pandemic. x

Stay safe, stay well. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (14): A Tried and Tested Trusty Hobby!

We all have those days when we find it hard to get ourselves going. Perhaps you’ve been working from home or working on the front line (thank you!), and that has given you a sense of structure and purpose to your days. However, quite a few of us are on the approach to the Christmas holidays or a period over winter where we may not have the structure of work each day.

Whatever your situation is, this next self care ‘tip’ if you like, can come in handy in all walks of life. It is to have a hobby that you can turn to that will give you a sense of enjoyment, relaxation, creativity and rest. You don’t need to be particularly good at it, but let it be something that you enjoy and that helps you take your mind off things. This can be a particularly helpful ‘go to’ on those days that might otherwise feel a bit wasted if we can’t quite get ourselves going.

My personal favourite for the past few years has been ‘adult colouring in’ and while I know not everyone is keen, it has helped me through depression, complex PTSD, anxiety, and now is not only a source of self care but is an artistic and creative pursuit. I am able to link up with creative groups, and see and be inspired by artist quality works that spur me on to better my own technique. It is something that is relaxing, fun, but also something that can be calming, develop my motor skills, creativity and open up a whole world for me. It is easy to pick up and put down without any pressure, except from the self-imposed pressure to better myself, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

On those days when you are unable to find structure, especially when you are staying at home during the winter seasons if that is the case, then having a hobby can be a real source of comfort and strength and calm for your mental health. Instead of feeling depressed at not being able to do what you would otherwise want to do, whether because of restrictions, health or lack of motivation, having something that you can work away at over a period of time can be so beneficial to your mental, emotional health and sense of wellbeing. You can see progress, and you can continue to form those important positive neural connections that are so vital for brain health.

Another thing you may have noticed that I do is obviously blogging. I do it as a hobby and don’t get any income from it, but with the times we are living in, it may be worth seeing if I can develop it as a ‘side hustle’ once I develop the skills and know-how, if that is what I am being led to do. But as it is, blogging as a hobby can provide me with so many positive things in my life, and as a blogger you may also find the same. I am able to express my thoughts, share them with an audience, and hopefully help and encourage all of you who read them (thank you if you do read my blog! πŸ™‚ ). It can provide new insights into my own thoughts as I express them. I have created a holiday booklet for myself to keep me accountable in how I use my time, and one of the pages is dedicated to ideas for my blog posts and as I progress in them I can see that I have been using my time and mind well and helping and encouraging other people.

Some of you are very outdoor focussed when it comes to hobbies, and perhaps you are able to continue these. Where I live, winters are generally cold, dark and rainy, and with increasing restrictions it is good to also be able to find indoor pursuits that can benefit our mental health.

What do you have that you can pick up every now and then especially on those less structured more ‘wobbly’ days when you may not be feeling your best? Do you have an instrument, or can you do some cooking, doodling, singing, dancing, or colouring and drawing? Do you enjoy blogging, designing art work, knitting, reading, writing, sewing or crafting? You don’t need to be any good at a hobby for it to be beneficial to you and remember we all have to start somewhere. The key thing is to have something relaxing that you enjoy that can help your mental health instead of allowing your mind to chase those negative trains of thought when you are unfocused and not putting your attention to something positive. Sometimes we don’t have the energy or wherewithal to use our skills and in those times maybe just watching a show can help.

But do have something in mind that can help you get through those days that you struggle with so that you keep your mind engaged and active, and move your thoughts away from those dark tunnels that you otherwise might let yourself delve into.

What works for you? Any other adult colouring in fans out there? If so what are your favourite books? Add your own special little sparkle to the world, even if it is just a ‘doodle’ on a post-it note, that in itself is special and it is a good place to start. x

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Self Care in A Pandemic (6). Sleep…

How many sheep do you need to count before you can fall asleep? I’m not sure if an answer has been found to that conundrum, but I am sure that we have all heard time and time again about the benefits and importance of sleep.

Sometimes, however, we just need a gentle reminder. At the start of lockdown in March (in UK) I was in good company among many others who were having vivid and sometimes disruptive dreams. It wasn’t altogether out of the ordinary for me as I went through a time for a few years when almost every night was a battle to get through sleep-wise. Thank God for His Peace in my life now, and more ‘normal’ sleep than before. However, conversations opened up among friends that they were having vivid, unsettling dreams and were struggling with their sleep too. I started noticing articles online from psychologists and medical professionals regarding this phenomenon in the pandemic. Perhaps it has been an issue for you too?

It is hardly surprising with all the new and at times overwhelming information we were having to process at the start of the pandemic. Have we grown somewhat ‘used to’ hearing these things on the news and have they become part of that oh so unpopular ‘new normal’? Our vocabulary has changed in 2020, and we are using words and phrases in common parlance that would have seemed strange to us a mere twelve months earlier. Maybe we’ve found ways to adapt, cope and be positive as time goes on? Maybe for our own mental and emotional wellbeing we’ve distanced ourselves from the facts and figures and human toll of the pandemic for the most part in order to get from one day to the next.

However, things keep changing, and with winter approaching, people are facing new concerns and having to process a whole host of new information. For example, in the UK, we have varying restrictions due to the pandemic in different nations (Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales), and even within the 4 nations, there are differing regional rules and protocols. Some regions and cities have re-entered lockdown or a form of lockdown, there are different rules with regards to the closing times of certain premises and such like. On top of that, there have been restrictions on visiting other households and a ban on this in Scotland apart from a few notable exemptions. And with winter approaching, people have concerns regarding how they will survive on their own, whether they will be able to see friends and family, whether they will have enough money to make ends meet, whether their family members will be ok in care homes, or whether supermarkets will once more run low on certain essential items.

All this can make for restless nights and troubled sleep. We know that we need to take care of our sleep and I for one do tend to struggle with this, but it is worth reminding ourselves that it may well be time for a self care ‘check in’ in this regard.

When was the last time you got a full 7 or 8 hours sleep?

Are you giving your body the chance to process, restore and repair itself as is needful, with a good sleep routine, as far as is possible?

Are you regularly staying awake through the night or avoiding going to sleep?

Do you give yourself the chance to nap during the day if you need to?

Are you oversleeping, which in itself can be detrimental?

We really need to focus on this aspect of self care, especially if like myself you struggle in this area. Even if all you can do is make small changes for the time being, please seek to do so and keep taking positive steps forwards because in order to stay as fit and healthy as you can, maintain a healthy immune system, and look after your mental, emotional and physical health and be there for others if needful especially as winter approaches, then moving towards better sleep needs to be a priority for us all.

Check in with yourself today. Think about what your personal challenges are in this area and what you can do to overcome them. Is there anything by way of a calming evening routine that you can implement in your life? Do you need to stop watching, reading or listening to the news earlier in the day? Are you giving yourself enough time and opportunity to process what is going on in your mind, and to allow your body and brain to do this at a subconscious level through the restorative blessings of sleep?

I’m sure we are all in need of at least a little (if not a lot) of improvement in this area, and I wish you all the very best with it. Perhaps this can be the gentle nudge in the right direction that you need.

Take care, and I pray that you will sleep well. x

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Self Care In A Pandemic (5). Incremental Changes…

Feeling overwhelmed in life is not unusual considering the generally busy lifestyles that many people lead. There are so many things ‘to do’, so many tasks to tick off, so many people and plans and projects to keep up with.

Yet even in the pandemic, and perhaps especially more so, with a change in the pace of our lives, there is still a likelihood that some of you reading this will be feeling overwhelmed.

There are different issues to think of in new and developing contexts whether these contexts involve public health risks, political unrest, a change to our daily routine, isolation, job and financial instability, and so forth.

Even if these things haven’t impacted you too much, there is still the chance that you put pressure on yourself to use the ‘extra time’ to achieve so many goals, do more things, or become better at others. Another common concern that seems to be cropping up is around body image and weight gain (or loss), which is unsurprising given the way many of us respond in times of stress by either comfort eating or forgetting to eat! You may want to make a change in this area of your life.

Which leads me to the point of this post on self care in a pandemic, namely whatever positive or productive changes you need or want to make in your life, don’t forget that you can only (and only need to) live out one day at a time on this journey.

I like to plan, there’s something reassuring about the creative processes I use in putting pen to paper and bringing clarity to my thoughts as I make sense of my day, and the weeks and months ahead. Yet, we all know, and have learned especially this year, that we cannot put all of our hopes or trust in our plans. A year ago, none of us would have known, expected or thought about a year like 2020, we don’t know what the next day or week will bring, and therefore as you move towards making changes in your life, be they to take better care of your body or mind, to use your time wisely, to learn something new, to maintain your home, to do your job well, to move towards greater financial ‘stability’, to invest time and attention in your relationships, to have a better balance in your day to day life, to be less stressed, to give up bad habits, to encourage others, to read more, pray more, live well, whatever it may be, give yourself the permission to do things incrementally, with care and thought.

When we feel overwhelmed, it is important to maintain a healthy balance between our visions of the ‘bigger picture’ and the small, time bound manageable ‘chunks’ of tasks that we need to do, bit by bit, step by step, little by little to get there.

It’s ok to make incremental changes….after all, isn’t that how most change starts to be made?

Don’t compare yourself with other people, and don’t add pressure to your life and mind with negative self talk over how far you have to go.

Take this moment, look up with faith, have an idea of what you want or need to do that will be beneficial, and simply take that one small next step, make an incremental change, and keep going….

Be kind to yourself. x

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Living life as it happens…

“All the best laid plans of mice and men….” and all that ! πŸ™‚

Hi Friends,

How are you all? I hope everyone is muddling through this pandemic as best you all can. I apologise that I have been absent for some time, and I understand if anyone has not noticed, because who can really keep up with things and keep on top of everything these days?

I had actually written several posts on surviving the pandemic, and you may have read a few of them – however, I have many more that I had written in advance and saved, ready to post. Yet, I’m wondering if I’ve missed my moment with them as lockdown has been in the process of easing around the world at different times.

To catch you up on things, I’ve been fairly busy with work, researching and writing reports on best practice for easing work restrictions and in reinstating public health related services – a bit of a change from my normal subject areas, but it’s been good to feel a bit ‘useful’ in helping with the Covid-19 effort, knowing that there are so many people going so far above and beyond by putting their own lives at risk in the health care services for example, among many other areas, but it’s a good time to encourage each other that all our efforts, big or small all add up to help our communities.

I’ve also had a brief stint joining a larger effort as a volunteer on a helpline to check in on people who are ‘Shielding’ due to their health conditions during the pandemic, and to see how the Council can help them. Despite sometimes feeling nervous on the phone, I must say I enjoyed it and felt a real sense of connection with people in the city that I would never otherwise have had any contact with – some doing really well, and others struggling, but relieved that there are avenues for support. It also gave me the opportunity to speak on the phone to a variety of people which was a novelty since I’ve been in lockdown in my flat for three months now without any human company.

I’ve been valuing the chance to slow down and invest more in my relationship with God and in daily creativity and have ventured outside for a few walks although recently the fear of going outside (being a ‘visible minority’ and all) has been a factor on top of the coronavirus that has seen me become a bit more of a ‘home bird’. We’ve had some quite sunny days here in Scotland, it’s been sweltering at points, but today is ‘dreich’ and rainy so venturing outside wouldn’t really have been in my plans anyway πŸ™‚

I have also been engaging with some excellent teaching and resources on Creative Christianity and the outflow of creativity in our identity as image bearers of the Living God, The Creator of all things. It has been wonderful, a real breath of fresh air as it is not something that I usually hear taught, especially with looking at craftsmanship and creativity throughout the Word of God – amazing! πŸ™‚

Other than that I’m hanging in there as many of you are also doing. I hope you’ve been finding deep pockets of joy throughout this pandemic, and I know that for many it has been very hard with job losses, financial worries, grief, health struggles and family or relationship challenges….sending as much love as my tiny heart can muster up – knowing that the Living God has boundless Love for you and just longs for you to reach out to Him.

I pray that this next season (can you believe we’re almost entering July?!) finds you well, safe and healthy and resourceful in a time of communal challenge and change.

Take care on your journey, friends. x

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Surviving The Pandemic Together. Words of Encouragement (18): *Encourage your encouragers*

In the UK, as in many other parts of the world, we ‘clap for our carers’ to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts of our National Health Service. It is heartening to see (and hear). I really do hope it is an encouragement to stay strong and to keep on going.
The people around us, as we can clearly see, aren’t invincible. They need support and encouragement, especially those on the front lines who are doing so much for each and every one of us. A collective well done for showing your / our support!
For those of you who like to watch or play team sports, doesn’t the cheer of a crowd spur on the players, and give them that bit of a boost? When you are enduring any challenge, it makes such a difference to know that you are surrounded by a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who have gone before you or who are cheering you on (and yes I meant ‘cloud’ and now ‘crowd’ – Hebrews 12:1 πŸ˜‰ ).
Similarly in your life, there will be people doing things to strengthen, encourage and help you. Maybe it’s someone in your family who speaks to you and listens to your concerns, whether in person or on the phone. Maybe it is a friend who is always there for you. Maybe it is your child who draws pictures of rainbows to put in the window to cheer you and other people up. Maybe it is someone who brings you food and leaves it at your door, or someone who prays for you, gives you advice and guidance, or helps and supports you in some way. Just as you need them, remember that they too are only human, and ‘cheer them on’ to keep going, even if it is in seemingly small ways. It all makes a difference. Listen to your spouse who has taken time to hear your concerns. Tell your child how much of a difference they are making to you with their little offerings. Let your neighbour know just how much they are valued and how them bringing you food is a great thing in your life and that they are making a difference. Those you lean on may not have support in their own lives, so as we cheer on the NHS, and other health services, food delivery drivers, shop workers, and so on, around the world, let us also cheer on those closest to us. Every little helps. ❀ P.S. You’re doing great, keep going strong! πŸ™‚

persons hands with rainbow colors
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Surviving the Pandemic Together: Words of Encouragement (12): *Get moving and stay in training*.

*Get moving and stay in training*.
Have you noticed that as we are now in a form of ‘lockdown’ in the midst of this pandemic, people are beginning to take notice of things they may have once taken for granted? There are the obvious big things, like life itself, health, being able to draw the next breath. Yet there are also other things that we might begin to notice more: nature, the colour of the sky, the freedom we once had to be able to go outside without the level of fear or apprehension we now face.
Maybe what you miss is being able to go out for a walk, a run, or just the natural flow of movements you make throughout the day as you go from place to place.
During this ‘lockdown’, movement and physical activity will have a direct impact upon how well you cope with being indoors most of the time. It’s important, regardless of your level of physical fitness, to get moving and stay in training. You might be an athlete, or you might be mostly sedentary, or like me, you might be somewhere nearer the middle of that spectrum. Even if you can’t go outside, try to establish a routine where you will be moving and exercising at least 3 times a week, if you can’t manage everyday. This could be something as simple as some basic stretches to begin with, or some seated exercises and low intensity movements if you don’t feel you can manage much, but the important thing is to do things regularly, even if a very little at a time, depending on your fitness. Don’t put pressure on yourself, but remember that the endorphins produced when you get moving will help you to (a) feel better (b) have a more positive outlook (c) manage your emotions and stress responses (d) help you to manage and regulate physical and psychological pain.
So even if you feel you can do very little to begin with, do that little bit, and keep going. It will help you to build up both your physical and mental / emotional resilience.
Feel free to comment on your exercise of choice to inspire and encourage other people.

woman in black leggings while walking on brown road
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Surviving the pandemic together. Words of Encouragement (2): *Home alone and feeling helpless*.

Words of Encouragement (2):
*Home alone and feeling helpless*.


I want to address this to those of you who feel like you ought to be doing more to help, and perhaps are feeling frustrated with being stuck at home during some form of isolation. I’m writing to friends in different parts of the world, so our various governments and health services may be addressing this pandemic differently. However, many of us have been told to stay at home.
Whether or not you are home alone, or at home with others, you may be struggling with feeling frustrated and helpless when others on the frontline are out there and doing something.
For each and all of us, please don’t underestimate the power of this action. It is not inaction, but a deliberate and purposeful way of protecting human life, and you are part of that – a very big part of things. As contrary to our instincts as it may feel, by not doing something in this instance, you are actually doing something very powerful. Rosa Parks made a stand by remaining seated. In a very different but also significant and powerful way, by staying at home, your choice, your action, is helping to save lives. Please don’t feel disempowered in this situation, you *are* making a difference, and many people who are staying safe and well, and alive because of you, would thank you for it.

nature water drops of water liquid
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