As an intensely introverted person, I love being alone. Furthermore, I’m a homebody, so I love not having anywhere to go and having plans cancelled. That said, there’s something about mandatory or “highly-recommended” staying home that sucks the enjoyment out of it.
I don’t know what your situation is like right now. Maybe you’re at home with kids and trying to balance all of the conference calls while ensuring they’re comforted and using their time productively. Maybe you’re alone in your apartment, far from family and friends, and aching for some human contact. Maybe you’re still on the frontlines—bravely putting your own health at risk for the sake of others getting better, having food or electricity, or delivering (thank you so much!). Whatever your days look like today, I’d venture to say they’re not the normal you’re used to. And in times like these, it’s easy to fall into habits and usages of time that end up making this difficult time even moreso.
In this time of uncertainty and, quite honesty, chaos, I’m here to remind you about your health: yes, keep washing your hands, drink water, sleep, stay away from people as much as possible. But also the less obvious parts of health. To take care of yourself in a holistic way. To manage staying at home by yourself or with kids or a spouse or with roommates or whoever it may (or may not) be. I’ve seen lists of things to fill the time many of us suddenly have on our hands—here are some thoughts and suggestions for all the different kinds of health.
I doubt this is the time many of us are thinking of starting a rigorous training for a triathlon, but exercise will make you feel so much better: physically but also emotionally and mentally. Whether you’re an addicted gym rat or haven’t done more than walking to your second story in years, choose to take 20-30 minutes a day to get your heart rate up. Here are some ways to do so:
- HasFit. The husband and I have used them for years. It’s a couple that does these workouts and the vast majority of them don’t even need equipment (if you have some dumbbells, you have even more to choose from!). They range in difficulty and focus (strength vs. cardio, etc.). They range from 20 minutes to even an hour! Here’s a great beginner workout, and here’s one that the husband and I die after doing. They’re also super encouraging throughout 🙂
- Beachbody. Although I don’t use them anymore, they have excellent workouts. My friend Nichole is offering two weeks of a trial if you want to try them out! Literally every difficulty and style and focus of workout with great instructors.
- So. Many. Workout. Apps. I don’t even know which ones to list. Strength, cardio, push ups, lunges. And free! Just type in what you’re looking for on your App Store and browse. Just don’t browse too long and use that as procrastination 😉
- Email me your focus and goals and equipment (none is fine!) and time allotment, and I will literally write you a week of workouts to do. I’m no trainer, but I did have a fantastic one for two years (man, I miss him). I’m serious, I’ll do it! Can email me at worriedsapling(at)gmail(dot)com.
- Still have set meal times. I’m a professional grazer, so I know it’s hard to stop eating when your kitchen is right there all day, every day. Seek to still have set meal times where you don’t eat anything if it’s not during that window.
Right now seems the perfect time to binge watch, but there are other things we can do with our time, too! Still enjoy some episodes (the husband and I will still be watching The Crown, so I clearly don’t believe in zero screen time), but don’t allow it to take up a large percentage of your day/week. Limit your Netflix consumption and instead:
- Read a challenging book. Challenging can mean something you might disagree with, something difficult to wrap your mind around, or just a kind of study that you don’t normally take the time for (history for me!)
- Read a fun book. Maybe read a younger book with your kids (or solo! I still read them by myself hah), or reread a fiction book you loved a few years ago, or read that book you ordered from Amazon in 2016 but never read for lack of time…
- Do a puzzle (like the jigsaw kind or sudoku!)
- Take an online class (this is one of my all-time favorites. You can also check out Udemy, Coursera, YouTube…there are so many free classes online, and even more right now!)
The biggest thing I’ve had to do for my emotional health is, right before I started this article, I logged out of Reddit and Twitter. I love being in the know, but we have to limit the amount of news and theories and number projections and fears and anxieties that we let into our hearts and minds. Maybe you need to do the same? With Facebook or just not watching the news. If someone else in your home is a news addict, kindly ask them to not share the latest with you, and to turn off the news when you’re in the same room. Make those boundaries to help your heart and mind. It goes a long way! A few more ideas:
- Watch comedy. Even with all of the new comedians, this guy and this guy will forever be my favorites. Laugh a lot!
- Enjoy the things you normally enjoy. You can still listen to all your favorite music. You can even watch opera! Tour an aquarium, or a national park (my favorite national park). Stream nature sounds. Fill your heart with good things.
- Again, set boundaries on things that hurt your health, even if those “things” are people
After being in a three-year-international-distance-long-distance relationship, we’ve had to learn more ways than “Hi, how are you?” to preserve and even grow emotional closeness over distance. Here are some ways!
- Video call your friends and family. It’s so much better than a voice call in times like these, and it helps you focus on the person instead of trying to multi-task
- Play charades together! The husband and I use this word generator to play. Stomach-ache-inducing amounts of laughter. Fun fact: it once took 32 minutes for me to guess something he was acting out. Talk about patience, hah!
- Play Pictionary! Same site as above, but use the retro online paint website. It brings back all the nostalgia, too.
- Have dinner together separately. Make your food, set down at the table, set up your video call on a computer or phone, and talk over dinner.
- Choose your five favorite YouTube videos and watch them together using one of these sites
- Ensure some no-screen, just talking and looking at each other, time with those who are in your house. Doesn’t have to be long, but treasure the time you have together in one another’s company
Even though I have more time at home, I’ve found it even harder to keep up the habit of journaling, prayer, and Bible study. I think it’s the stress, the unknown, the even less control over what’s going on around me. But isn’t this the perfect time to spend with our Lord? Here’s a few things that I’m doing, and I hope they help you, too:
- I put my phone on Airplane mode before I sleep, and I don’t turn my phone back on until after I have personal worship time in the morning. This helps me lean into His arms with more clarity and focus instead of already being distracted by the latest cancellation or worried about checking that flight for the billionth time. Spend time with Jesus in the morning first
- Read the Bible. Just read it. Read it slowly, ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to its beauty and God’s power and wonder. And trust Him.
- Watch or listen to sermons. We absolutely love Michael Todd, so anything by him (this one is my favorite right now). And here’s a great site to listen to sermons (and here’s one of mine!)
- Watch The Chosen. So, truth be told, I haven’t actually started watching this yet, but we plan on starting it tonight! It’s a dramatization of key parts of Jesus’ life and ministry. I’ve seen clips and the acting is superb. I’m excited.
- Take time to pray about all the things: the very details of your worries of concerns, your questions, your not knowing how to manage it all. Talk to God as to a friend.
- Take time to pray for the world and for all of our healthcare professionals, grocers, delivery workers, and those without jobs and struggling
- Seek to find ways to help those selfsame people. It is in service that we find the highest blessing!
I pray that each of you are healthy and safe. One more thing. I’ve heard different people saying this means this is the end of the world, and others avowing there is no way. Whether it is or not, we can trust in Jesus as our righteousness and that He is strong enough to carry us through: whether this is a week, it’s months, or it’s the end, or it’s not even close. With that in mind, and as the last portion, here are some verses that have been encouraging my heart. May you be encouraged, too.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
“I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread.” Psalm 37: 25
“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.” Psalm 42:11
“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” Psalm 56:3-4
“From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:2-4
“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.” Psalm 62:8
“My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26
“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, ‘My foot slips’, your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties, within me, your comforts delight my soul.” Psalm 94:17-19
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills–from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10
“Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, you people in whose heart is my law; do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults.” Isaiah 51:7
“I, even I, am He who comforts you. Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass?…you have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor…but I am the Lord your God…and I have put my words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand.” Isaiah 51:12-16
“Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Luke 12:11-12
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I am gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him…” Philippians 3:8-9
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4:19
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?…Therefore do not worry saying. ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:27-34
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; thought its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.” Psalm 46:1-3
And an all-time favorite quote for this anxious heart:
“Live the life of faith day by day. Do not become anxious and distressed about the time of trouble, and thus have a time of trouble beforehand. Do not keep thinking, “I am afraid I shall not stand in the great testing day.” You are to live for the present, for this day only. Tomorrow is not yours. Today you are to maintain the victory over self. Today you are to live a life of prayer. Today you are to fight the good fight of faith. Today you are to believe that God blesses you. And as you gain the victory over darkness and unbelief, you will meet the requirements of the Master, and will become a blessing to those around you.” HS 142.3