Leading yourself well during lockdown
I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? Psalm 121:1
On a recent Sunday, allured by great weather and the need for fresh air, I decided to take a long walk around my neighbourhood. About halfway through, I became aware that I was carrying a sense of anxiety around with me. I couldn’t pinpoint its source so I walked on and started humming to myself, hoping to distract from my own thoughts.
Wherever you are in the world right now, you’re probably well into some form of lockdown or quarantine period. None of us could have guessed when we stepped into the new decade, that just a few months later it would look like this! We are all faced with a time of restriction that we didn’t expect or even have time to prepare for. If we’re honest, it can sometimes feel like we’re muddling through, scrambling to adapt to our new normal, all the while trying to lead others as best we can.
We are living through a time where so much is new. The practicalities of our jobs, relationships, family life, schooling, health - so much has changed in such a short space of time. It is no surprise then, that many of us are living under a cloud of anxiety that is sometimes inexplicable, but we have a choice where to look.
To lead ourselves well in this season, we must lift up our eyes. We could look around us but chances are, we will only find increased fearfulness and worry. Psalm 121 gives us another option - we can look up! To lift up our eyes is to elevate our vision. It is to look above what we see right in front of us and to recognise that our help comes from beyond the circumstances we face.
When we lift up our eyes we acknowledge the One who is perfect and whose love casts out all fear. When we lift up our eyes, we shift our focus to God. So, as we lead ourselves and others during this very unusual time, what practical things can we do to elevate our vision and keep the right focus?
Prioritise your relationship with God
Leading ourselves well in this season means continuing to put our relationship with God first. Yes, there may be a million things to figure out but if we neglect our time with Jesus, we lead from an unhealthy place. When we feel overwhelmed, it is helpful to look back at all that God has brought us through in the past as a reminder that we can rely on His faithfulness. Knowing that God is constant in an ever-changing world reminds us that we can trust who He is and what we know about Him.
Embrace the chaos
We can still find opportunity in the midst of what feels like chaos. With all of us sharing much more online we are still reaching youth and kids, some of whom may never step foot in a church. We can focus on the positives. It is also good to remember that before this pandemic ever was, God knew that it was coming. That means it is all in His hands. His order and his plans still prevail, and we are still vessels that he can use.
Acknowledge when you’re struggling
Every person will experience this season differently because we are all individuals. There is no “one size fits all approach” to dealing with change which is why some have adjusted seamlessly into our new normal, while others find it more of a struggle. Aside from the day job, many are homeschooling, looking after a sick family, supporting vulnerable children - the list goes on.
It is important to prioritise our mental health and acknowledge when things feel like they're getting too much. Now more than ever, we also need to be sensitive to the wellbeing of those around us.
Social media as ever, gives us a platform to see what others are doing and compare that with ourselves. It’s great to learn from others and share ideas. However, if we become consumed or feel inadequate because all of a sudden everyone’s material is online, it’s okay to step away for a while. Comparison can kill your joy, contentment and ability to see the good that’s around you. Leading yourself and others in the midst of a pandemic isn’t normal. We won’t all have it figured out in just a few weeks so you needn’t be so hard on yourself.
Endurance - think marathon, not a sprint
Recently, I’ve been running a bit more than usual and noticed something interesting. When I focus on how far I still have to go, I am quickly discouraged and ready to quit or change course. However, when I focus on putting one foot in front of the other, completing one stretch before thinking about the next, my run is complete before I know it.
We don’t know how long we are going to be in this situation and it’s easy to overburden ourselves with activities that will cause us to burn out. Is the way you are leading yourself sustainably? Are you carving out enough time to rest? Maybe you’re looking too far ahead and feeling overwhelmed. We don’t know what the road ahead will look like but we can put one foot in front of the other and take each day as it comes with God’s help.
Finally, in case you hadn’t noticed, these five steps spell out PEACE. Hold on to the giver of peace in this season. Leading others begins with leading ourselves well so when things feel out of control, remember the One who is always in control. Always remember that we can lift our eyes up to Our Father in Heaven - that’s where our help comes from.
Enjoy this article? Don't forget to share