Saturday 2 May 2020

Survival strategies

Over the course of the last six months or so, I've put into place a number of survival strategies that have helped me cope with the big change in my life.  I wrote earlier about Sabbath-keeping and care-casting.  Since then I've added two other practises that have also been super-helpful.

My "bong"-timer

It's not a very good name, but that's what I call it!

I'd been reflecting on Proverbs 3:5-6:
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
I felt like I didn't 'acknowledge God in all my ways' at all.  In fact, I'd often go from one end of the day to the other without thinking about him much at all.

I wondered if setting up a timer on my computer to go off every hour to interrupt myself and remind me to acknowledge God would help.  As I was thinking about this, I was reading about Benedictine spirituality, and how Benedictine monks and nuns are repeatedly interrupted in their work schedule by reminders to pray.  That cemented for me that it was a thing worth trying, as it was clearly something many other Christians over the centuries had found helpful.

I've found it really good.  I'm often reluctant to stop what I'm doing when it goes off - realistically, between the times I ignore it and the times I'm away from the computer when it goes off, I probably only really stop about 3-4 times most days.  But it's so good when I do.

Sometimes I thank God for good things I'm noticing.  Sometimes I simply acknowledge that I belong to God and my work belongs to him and that that's more important than exactly what I get done.  Sometimes I pray about something I'm thinking about or working on that's upsetting me.  And sometimes the simple interruption helps me to notice that I'm tired and I need to stop what I'm doing and rest.

I highly recommend it!

Taking some 'quiet time' every day

I don't mean 'having a quiet time' in the evangelical sense of a daily time of Bible reading and prayer (although I do that, too).  I mean making sure, every day, that I take at least 20-30 minutes at some point in the day where I'm neither productively working nor conked out in exhaustion.  Some time to do some quiet activity: perhaps to sew, perhaps to read, perhaps to sit quietly and reflect.

I used to do this every day, back when I was much sicker with CFS.  Every lunch time (generally) would be my 'quiet' up time when I would eat my lunch on the porch and then either sew, read or phone someone for 30 minutes or so.  Somehow, as I've been able to be more active, I stopped bothering to keep that time.  But I realised a couple of months ago that I was getting quite frazzled as there was no space for me to process my life and just 'be'.  So I've re-instituted it and life has become vastly more copeable again :-)

I have found, with the general vague stress that's come with this Covid-19 time (as well as, ironically, having vastly more people-time than usual since we've been locked down - both 'virtually' and in terms of how much I see of Martin and Sarah), that these strategies haven't been enough.  I've found I've needed to take more walks to clear my head.  Last weekend I ended up taking the whole 3-day weekend basically as a Sabbath (which was super-hard, as I had so many things planned to do that Saturday which weren't easy to let go of...) and I've managed this week so much better as a result.  But the three practises (Sabbath, bong-timer and quiet time) have been an excellent foundation all the same.

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