During my weeks in quarantine I have developed a regimen that I find helps me maintain a perspective that leads to balance and a restful soul, amid what could be quite a chaotic situation. Its basis is in several Scriptures, with the first in the book of Matthew. I would like to share it.
Focus only on today. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus tells us to keep our thoughts only on today. I have found that approaching this day as if it is the only one that matters has done the most for me at reducing stress. Sure, we don’t know what tomorrow brings as the new normal, but we don’t have to when we trust that God is in control and believe all things work for good to those who love Him.
My daily habit begins with an eternal perspective. Pray and read scripture first thing in the morning, then as you see blessings throughout the day recognize and be thankful for the many blessings we all share – freedoms, nature, family, and time to enjoy them (and in some cases the blessing of work). I have a poignant Scripture in mind when I become impatient (Psalm 46:10a “Be still and know that I am God”) or frustrated (Philippians 4:6 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”) to help ground me in my trust of God and prayer.
Spend time in your garden, removing the weeds and planting something colorful. Care for it and watch it grow and blossom. Azaleas, roses, papaya, and onions are plants I look forward to seeing new growth on each day. If gardening is not your thing, or you don’t have one, develop an old hobby or venture to learn a new one. Create something useful – there is great satisfaction in creating something beautiful and purposeful. Spend time daily outside in your garden, exercising or doing a hobby – for any reason you can find – the vitamin D intake will do you good.
Have quality conversations with each family member. Seek out your spouse and children, make plans for something unusual and fun, cook and clean together, and also just be present with them for periods of time to uncover hidden fears or dreams that need to be heard. And for those that live by themselves, consider reaching out to family and friends by phone or writing them a letter.
Handle your work each day. Portion your time appropriately but take breaks to get away. Set boundaries of when you will stop reading email and leave it for the next day. Taking a mid-morning or evening walk around the neighborhood will help sort your thoughts and clear your mind.
Snack wisely. I graze throughout the day and I realized I had to change my diet to fit my routine. What works in my house is to be careful when we shop so that we purchase the healthier snacks of nuts and fruits, and less chips and sweets, also purposefully buying less sodas so we will drink more water and juice. We still snack on the salty and sweet snacks, but in proportion to what is bought.
With the family in the house, we may cook a meal together, or clean up together (many hands make light work!) and then we either spend some 1 on 1 time, or quiet time alone. Watching the moon rise or a sunset chat on the deck or at the park is also a pleasant end to my day.
Finally, it is always helpful to get a good night’s rest. I try to head to bed about an hour before I want to be asleep. I read, reflect and am thankful for another day that God and I made it through, together.