A Gift of Time

Our stage is small these days, as we follow our leaders’ advice to “Stay at Home.” Our audience is limited mostly to family members and social media connections. Some people are feeling the weight of having too much time on their hands as they remain isolated.

Teaching from home has been a new challenge, but it does take less time than my regular work day/night in “the real world.” I’m including the article below on Val’s Stage today to remind us of ways we can use this gift of time many of us have been given. It was first published at the beginning of April in the community paper, VISTAS, in my regular column; Editorial Musings. Almost two months later, it’s still very relevant.

While self-diagnosing an ailment recently, I asked “Dr. Google” for solutions and stumbled on a page from mayoclinic.org that stressed how critical self-care is to the management of my physical problem. Self-care. The article included well-meaning advice such as reduce stress, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, pace yourself, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t need a website with the word “clinic” in it to tell me these things. Anyone who has made it past Kindergarten, has been educated on how to live healthy. So, why do I struggle so much with “self-caring?” It’s simple: my regular lifestyle just doesn’t make room for it.

The one positive thing that COVID-19 has given a lot of us is TIME. We have time to make some positive changes in our lives that can benefit our overall health. And, maybe, once we’ve implemented them into our routine, we’ll find a way to keep them there when the world goes back to “normal.”

Reduce stress. We can sit all day and worry about catching and/or spreading the virus; how we will fare financially; how our children are going to catch up on their education; how we will ever bounce back as a city, as a country. But no matter how much we worry, the resulting stress will not fix even one of those things.

We now have the time to relax and try to de-stress. This might take the form of yoga, deep-breathing or meditation. There are a lot of videos on YouTube to choose from, including Bible-based meditations, which can help us clear our heads for a few minutes, allowing our minds to focus on things we are thankful for instead of negative things. Many people find prayer helpful as we give our worries to a higher power who we trust will take care of those issues. Choose an activity that you find relaxing, like reading a book, taking a long bath, knitting a scarf, or whittling something out of wood, and enjoy it – guilt-free

Get enough sleep. I stay up too late and get up early, giving my body a mere five hours of sleep each weeknight. While we don’t all need the same amount of sleep, there is a healthy amount and a functional amount. You’ll know the difference when you find yourself nodding off at a traffic light driving home from work. We can lavish good sleep habits on our bodies while we’re off, falling into a pattern of going to bed and getting up at a similar time each day and limiting daytime napping (a luxury we’re not likely to have in our regular workplaces).

Exercise regularly. Walking, jogging or biking are all activities that we can still enjoy, while social distancing, as our weather becomes more summer-like. I also have a yoga mat set up in a spare room with a small set of hand weights. YouTube has multitudes of exercise videos (or even dance videos) to follow and get you moving. There are stretching videos as well that you can find that target areas where you feel pain or discomfort. I’ve been taking advantage daily of one for hip bursitis.

Pace yourself. Keep your activity on an even level. Spread out your housework over the week. Do the same for your Netflix watching. Try to build in time for yourself while keeping young children occupied, and, if you have a significant other, balance the day-to-day duties with intimate moments.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s tempting to go to the fridge or pantry cupboard when you’re bored. A bag of chips here, a bottle of wine there, here a chocolate bar, there a cookie, everywhere junk food… E-I-E-I-O. If you don’t want to have to buy a whole new wardrobe for your return to work, (or feel like Old MacDonald’s cow), ease up on the “comfort food.” Moderation. Make healthy meals and treat your body well.

Do something that you find enjoyable and fulfilling every day.

Because now you have time.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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