I am growing weary of this quarantine. And I’m not the only one. As I talk to my friends about how they’re doing, similar themes keep surfacing: loneliness, anxiety, mental exhaustion, sadness, displacement. I’ve felt each of these myself.
One thing I’ve particularly missed is my “rhythms” — the routine elements of my former life. I miss the things I could count on: waking up at 6:30 to get my son ready for school; spending Tuesdays in a coffee shop, catching up on writing and editing; attending church on Sunday mornings and Bible study on Wednesday nights.
I guess we truly are creatures of habit. And when habits get disrupted, feelings of anxiety, loneliness and apathy are exacerbated. During this season, I have discovered that recreating some structure and establishing new routines has been a healthy and helpful way to cope. Here are a few quarantine rhythms that are making a difference for me:
I love Mexican food. In my area of the country, where the infection rate is still low, my family can still support our local restaurants by ordering food to pick up curbside. (If that changes, I can still cook Mexican food at home.) Every Tuesday night, we treat ourselves to some of our favorite food and enjoy a break from cooking.
Virtual game night.
We recently discovered some virtual party games you can play with friends over Zoom. One such gaming source, JackboxTV.com , offers trivia games, word games, and drawing games to play with groups of 4-8. This is a great way to round up a group of people, pop some popcorn and enjoy some lighthearted fun. I’ve done this one to two nights a week over the past month with mood-boosting results.
Online church and small group.
Many churches have put their Sunday services online. Our small group, as well as my women’s Bible study, meets weekly through Zoom. It’s not the same as getting together in person, but I always leave those meetings encouraged.
I celebrated a birthday this month. Along with my husband buying me toilet paper as a gift, it was a very different kind of birthday. But I was hugely blessed by the friends who drove by my house to wish me a happy birthday from afar. Some even dropped off cards, coffee and other small gifts. During this season, I have enjoyed every opportunity to drive by other people’s homes to celebrate their special occasions, too.
Family video chats.
I’ve been keeping up with my parents and siblings during quarantine, but one really fun development is a weekly Zoom call with a group of cousins on my dad’s side. We haven’t connected in this way in years, but our Zoom chats are so life-giving and an unexpected gift of this season.
This article explains how maintaining your body’s circadian rhythms through adequate sleep, regular exercise and a consistent eating schedule helps you stay physically and mentally healthy. Sleep is especially important.
Sleep is the most profound predictor of a healthy circadian rhythm. When we disturb our sleep, it has effects beyond our brain. Studies have shown that chronically sleep-deprived animals and humans have weaker immune systems, making it easier for even mild infections and viruses to gain entry to the body and cause more damage or even death. Therefore, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is a powerful strategy to maintain better immunity.
I’ll admit, as a certified night owl, maintaining sleep routines is a difficult task for me apart from external time obligations, but clearly, sleeping and waking at regular times holds many health benefits.
Try having Bible reading, prayer and worship times at repeated intervals throughout your week. In her article, “Spiritual Rhythms in the Time of Coronavirus,” college professor Dr. Lauren Amaro explains how her family has begun observing a Covid-19 Sabbath on Sundays that include no work, no phones, pancake breakfast with worship music, quiet time, and a hike or a walk. She writes:
The first week was hard. I was twitchy with an inability to sit still. The second one—last week—was delicious, as though my soul needed it. Certainly, our historical moment requires a slower pace that is foreign to most in the United States. There’s never been an easier time to take a Sabbath.
Dr. Amaro goes on to say she can feel panicky thinking about the many unknowns of the future, “but I can make it to Sunday.” That’s the beauty of rhythms. They are signposts of hope amidst the unknowns. They are predictable elements in an unpredictable world. Today I might be feeling lonely or discouraged or unmotivated, but Taco Tuesday is here and Sunday’s on the way!
What are some routines or rhythms you’re starting (or wanting to start) during this time of self-quarantine, and how have they changed the way you approach your days and weeks?
Copyright 2020 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.