Slowly but surely, we are beginning to emerge from what in some places around the world has been a complete lockdown due to the coronavirus.
Hopefully we are seeing some ‘green shoots’ of recovery, although the recovery process may well be far from linear, and a global journey of learning that needs to be taken carefully, wisely and cautiously for the sake of public health and wellbeing.
However, as certain restrictions are being relaxed in various places, and we begin to embark upon this ‘new normal’ that everyone keeps talking about (while none of us know exactly what this means or what it will look like), many people are beginning to reflect upon what they have learned during lockdown.
Perhaps this is something you have been thinking about too. The coronavirus, changes in society, and in our personal lives have all served to highlight that when striving towards what is good, we are better together.
That is why, as I embark upon considering some of the lessons I have learned, I’d like to bring you on the journey with me with prompts to help you reflect upon your own experiences and learning curves. Maybe you could grab a notebook or journal or even keep a note on your electronic device so that you can look back over these lessons as you move forwards, and get the most out of this reflective exercise.
To begin with, my first prompt is to pose the question:
What has been the most unchanging, steadfast and dependable aspect of your life that you have been able to cling to throughout these changing times? Conversely, if you don’t have an answer to that, then what had you been depending on before that turned out not to be so reliable, and what have you learned from that realisation?
My answer to this question is the Reality of God in my life has been the most unchanging, steadfast and dependable thing. I’ve had lots of ups and downs in my life before this, and found both then and now that when I couldn’t see a way forward, or when I didn’t have the strength to make it through, Jesus Christ Has never left me nor forsaken me and Is Faithful and Good and Loving and Powerful in any and all circumstances.
Now it’s your turn – take a few moments to reflect upon this question for yourself, and consider what you have learned and what you might need to change in your life going forwards. Write it down in your notebook, or in a document, or maybe do something creative so that you have a ‘look-back-book’ (I think I just coined a new phrase, lol) for what you have learned during this unique time in world history. Also, I’d be delighted if you wanted to share you answer or answers in the comments below so that I and others can learn from you too.
Feel free to follow my blog so that you can see when I post the next prompts in this interactive series. 🙂
I don’t know about you, but it is a rare treat for me to have an extended period of time off from work. Sometimes I’ll have this time over the summer, but this year I only had a few days off here and there, and I therefore have my longer break from work in the wintertime this year.
It’s nice to not have to get up early in the cold and dark weather to go to work, and to know that for many other people, especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to have office closures over the Christmas and New Year period, we are having a collective rest and break from the normal day to day routine. Of course not everyone has time off and I am especially respectful of those who work over the holidays to keep our communities going, particularly those who work in the emergency services and frontline crisis and care work.
Yet, for many of us, we’ve been long awaiting the Christmas break and are looking forward to a good few days to rest and relax and maybe even ‘hibernate’ a bit.
I’ve already had a couple of weeks off, which has been spent tidying up, organising, decorating, preparing for travel, going away for 6 days to enjoy some Christmas markets, coming back home, catching up with sleep, unpacking, washing, tidying, preparing for Christmas, going to church, preparing myself spiritually and generally trying to get organised. For many of us, the lead up to Christmas seems to bring with it seemingly unending things to do, and the household tasks seem to just keep coming, until we can finally get things all settled, cosy and prepared so that we can have actually have the rest that we have been hoping for and preparing for.
It is easy to get lost in this hustle and bustle, and by the time we do get to ‘put our feet up’ we are more than ready for a rest.
Sometimes Christmas and the holiday period involves spending time with friends and family, and maybe even a change of scene. Once we have prepared and got things suitably ready, had some festive events, and done some charitable acts of kindness, we may find that we are blessed with some quieter days ahead, which will be spent mainly indoors.
Ahead of me is a stretch of 11 days from today – 23rd December until 2nd January 2020 where I’ll be away from my home and spending time with family. We all say it so often, that the time just ‘flies by’ and before we know it we’re in another new year and back in the ordinary routine of things, and feeling stressed again. We sometimes look back and wonder whether we made the most of our time, or whether we ‘frittered away’ our time sleeping too much, eating too much, lazing in front of the TV, and letting days flow into each other in an unproductive blur.
There is a time when we need to rest and relax and just ‘chill out’ but I’m also aware that the holiday season is precious and that I’d like to use my time wisely. However, it is hard to really use our time wisely without knowing what our priorities are, or without having some kind of structure or routine, plan or list of things we’d like to do. It’s nice to be spontaneous, and we don’t always need to plan, but sometimes without any structure we risk wasting time, and for those of us who have suffered from depression and anxiety, some form of a routine is essential for our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
For me, getting back into blogging after almost two weeks away doing other things, provides me with the opportunity to quieten my heart and mind and reflect on how I would like to use my time over the next 11 days.
A simple routine:
Without being too prescriptive, one thing I’d like to maintain is a simple, yet flexible daily routine to add structure, meaning and joy into my Christmas holidays, prioritising what is most important to me. My brain likes to see things written down as this helps me to be wise with my time. So, this is what I’m hoping my days will include:
A healthy dose of rest, relaxation and sleep, incorporating a morning routine where possible, but not putting any pressure on myself to do this.
Focusing on the True meaning of Christmas, and keeping Christ central to my thoughts, and taking time to truly be amazed that God came to earth to be with His people, to save us, to save me, and to deepen my relationship with the God Who loves me.
Having a daily time in Scripture and prayer to God, seeking Him, praising Him, and praying for the needs of others and myself.
Being intentionally grateful on a day to day basis, and taking the time that I don’t usually have to reflect more deeply on the blessings and lessons in my life and to give thanks for them.
Being present and slowing down enough to appreciate the special moments and time spent with family and friends. Appreciating how precious the time we have together is, and enjoying each other’s company and being there for each other.
Taking time to stay in touch with and reach out to friends who I know are struggling in this season due to various circumstances.
Being helpful so that everyone gets a chance to rest and relax over the holidays.
Enjoying food and holiday treats while being mindful of what I eat and not to overindulge.
Keep moving and doing a little bit of exercise, even if just five minutes, everyday, and where possible go out for fresh air and walks so as not to stay cooped up in the house all day every day.
Reflection on the year gone by, on blessings enjoyed and lessons learned, goals achieved, and seeking direction and wisdom for moving forward.
Time spent figuring things out, working through my thoughts, issues and continuing to become stronger mentally and emotionally, and considering my priorities and how I will achieve them going forwards.
Enjoy having time to do things that I find creative or relaxing such as playing Christmas music on my violin, writing more, reading, listening to audio books, watching films, playing games with the family, arts and crafts, selecting photos from the year gone by for creating an album, and taking time to enjoy the cosiness of the season.
Plan for what’s ahead, so that the transition into the new year will be as seamless and enjoyable and productive as possible.
What about you? What kind of holiday routines do you have that help you make the most of your time? x