(This is from a longer article by Curt Thompson. Read the full article here…)
By now, most of us have noticed. And either we or someone we know is talking about it. Zoom fatigue. Irritability. No fever, cough or body aches necessary. Just the normal, run-of-the-mill symptoms of social distancing. And mostly, people are describing how much more exhausted they are at the end of their days compared to what their lives were like before three weeks ago. All of this highlights one element of what it truly means to be human that our encounter with the coronavirus has drawn our attention to: our bodies.
God made our bodies as part of what it means for us to be human, and much like asking someone to breathe air that is only 15% oxygen instead of the normal 20%, we’re asking our bodies to do things they were not made to do. Even so, along with other suggestions I have offered regarding COVID-19, here are some additional things you can do to help:
- Make it a practice to take at least three 5-10 minute walks every day. Shorter, more frequent movement not only extends your body’s movement over the course of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to throughout the day, thereby reducing your anxiety along with your irritation.
- If possible, change your location of work in your home. This may be challenging, but different physical locations within your home over time gives your body the awareness of movement by virtue of being in a novel location.
- When possible, stand while doing work, especially when using a screen. This practice enables your body to work even while being less mobile.
- As you are able, limit the number of people on videocalls to three or less. This may sound unreasonable, or impossible. But the fewer people your brain—and body—has to keep track of, the less tired you will be. This may simply sound like common sense. That’s because it is.
- Greet as many people as you can whenever you are able. There is little cost to acknowledging the presence of another person, and we need to be acknowledged even by strangers. Not only will your thinking mind give and receive it, your body will as well.
- Plan for daily singing/worship while standing. Sing along with your most loved YouTube worship video as a means to use your body to tell your mind and soul that you are quite alive—and that you are not alone.
- Talk about your anger. There may be nothing more important than having a close friend or counselor validate that your anger is real and isn’t crazy. Not to mention that talking to someone about your feelings connects you to another person, which in and of itself will reduce your irritability and give you a greater sense of agency.
- Practice contemplative prayer. This form of prayer, especially while standing, strengthens your capacity to live in the present moment which protects against the irritability that emerges in the face of immobility.
Our bodies are hard at work. And although we are in a season in which we are asking them to work differently and harder than usual, know that you are not alone, and your work is not in vain.