While we're in lockdown it's really easy to feel overwhelmed. Our brains can either freeze - and we are seemingly unable to think- or we can have a tiny attention span and - oh look- squirrel!!
Both of these responses are normal and go back to our primitive brain with its flight, fight or freeze responses to keep our ancestors safe from an attack by a bear. And they are very useful - if we were under attack by a bear. But we're not. Our present situation is caused by a tiny virus that we can't see and can't run from and we are all working and living in new ways. So whilst the internet can tell us that, if by the end of the lockdown, we haven't written a novel AND learned a new language AND become super fit AND learned a new skill then we've failed, the reality is much more about surviving and looking after our spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health as best we can. Here are some thoughts...
1. Slowing Down
Just take some time to breathe. Easy to say not always so easy to do. Perhaps you could find somewhere nice to sit and just notice your breathing. You don't have to do anything fancy. Just notice it. Are you breathing quickly or slowly? Does it seem shallow or deep? Where can you feel it - your diaphragm, your chest, your nose? Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth - as if you were blowing through a straw or trying to blow up a balloon. And don't worry about your inbreath. Your body will take care of that for you.
Once you've slowed down a bit, you might want to try something similar with something around you. Maybe listening to the birdsong, perhaps seeing if you can hear different 'layers'. You might want to try it with a cup of tea of coffee - what do you feel as you hold the mug; what does it smell like; what does it taste like?
Slowing down helps our primitive brain and more evolved brain get back in sync with each other and helps our stress levels to reset.
2. Stop Multitasking
I know it's hard as we're homeschooling, working from / at home, gardening, tidying cupboards and trying to 'upskill' but multitasking means that our already stretched brains are trying to do even more. You might find it helpful do do a jigsaw, do some colouring, be creative and draw a picture, learn to knit, learn to play an instrument; sitting in the bath with a glass of something. Something you enjoy and gives you pleasure - not something that you're doing because it's good for you or you feel you ought to. This is about concentrating on one thing at a time and letting your brain and body get back together again.
3. and if you want to explore where God might be in this for you, here are some great resources you might want to use.
- Come and pray during the day or on Sundays. This is what we're offering at All Saints, St Barnabas and The Hayes Church. And catch up on Elizabeth's daily Bible Reflections here too.
- Sign up for the Daily Reflections from St Paul's Cathedral. Not too long and written for now by really good people including Paula Gooder who wrote our recent Lent course. Get them here
- Join in the St Augustine's College Virtual Retreat again, based on living with God in the lockdown.
- 27th-30th April an online version of the On Fire Mission Conference is running from 7-8pm on YouTube followed by a Zoom meet up. Called #sacramentalspiritfilled it's an opportunity for (mostly) lively worship and reflections on how we can proclaim God's love and be open to the Holy Spirit at this time.