The New Normal
Trying to remember what day of the week it is, let alone what date or month it is, is quite a challenge at the moment. I’ve just taken five minutes to run back through my diary trying to work out what I’ve been up to, and I think I can summarise it like this:
Week 1 – novelty, sitting on the sofa, finishing off half-finished jobs
Week 2 – setting up a home office, learning how to use technology, making it up as we went along
Week 3 – Holy Week – how do we do this online?
Week 4 – kind of taking a bit of a break, but still doing some of the stuff
Week 5 – back into the swing of things, this is starting to feel a bit normal
Week 6 – what does normal look like anyway?
I’ve been really struck by two things doing this.
Firstly, how quickly we’ve been able to adapt and change and “get used to” a radically different way of life. It now seems fairly “normal” to be chatting to my colleagues using video-call. As I type this, Anne is working away at her desk in front of me – we’re looking up and talking about this and that, but quietly getting on with our own work, its just like being in the office, except we’re not in the office, she’s in her sister’s bedroom and I’m in my spare room – her face appears on the screen of my phone which is sat on a tripod behind my laptop – mine is on her iPad nestling next to her keyboard. Its quite normal. And quite lovely, that I can stop and watch the birds bathe in my garden pond while I’m working or spend an hour’s lunch-break with my family.
But secondly, how incredibly hard-work it all is. Now I’m not adverse to hard work, especially hard youthwork! I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do a job I love for nearly 15 years, and putting the effort in is worth it for the rewards. Its the emotional strain behind the monotony of life in lockdown, probably in part driven by some of the stuff above. Maybe the fun and excitement of all the newness has worn off, and we’re now into a “new normal” which is draining and challenging with no end in sight.
I’m naturally an introvert, and blessed with a family and a nice house with a garden, so for me things aren’t so bad, but even with all of that I’m finding this tough. I can’t begin to imagine what its like for those people alone, or single parents, or stuck in a small flat, or an abusive relationship.
I’m no expert, but here are some tips from me for coping with the grind of it all:
- Don’t worry about the time
If you’re still working (or if not) it can be easy to think you’ve got to be at the desk 9-5 every day. But aside from the odd meeting and perhaps answering your phone there’s no reason to force yourself to stay into your usual parameters. Think about tasks rather than time – work when its best for you, take plenty of breaks and long lunches, make the most of having a more flexible working day.
- Take a walk
The “permitted exercise” thing might be a bit cliched, but there’s a genuine reason for it. We all recognise the value of exercise to us mind, body and soul, so prioritise doing something out of the house.
- Enjoy the world
According to a report from the BBC the sky is blue, wildlife is more prevalent and the earth is moving less. Take a look around, the planet seems to be enjoying a break too!
- Stay connected
Keeping contact with friends and family is so important. A quick phone or video call, sharing a meal together online or even sending an old fashioned letter or card – hearing from others makes a real difference.
- Make time for God
This is probably true all of the time for most of us, but we can spend so much time in ministry for others that we neglect our own personal discipleship. Morning prayers, compline, worship music, whatever works for you invite Him into your day.
- Be grateful
We have a lot to be thankful for in our lives and in each other, so hold on to Joy, Patience, Peace and Love!