This is new territory for all of us.  Unexpected, unplanned, uncertain, unpredictable—all are words that describe my feelings about this new reality created by COVID-19.  Especially for those of us who are in public service, medical care, business or ministry leadership… we tend to step up, gear up, adapt and adjust so we can carry out our responsibilities in this unprecedented experience happening in our world right now.  

Our priorities have been shifted around.  Protocols and procedures have changed.  Delivery of our products and services have transitioned. But let me suggest one priority that should not get pushed to the bottom of the ever-changing list of responsibilities.  If we are going to help others deal with the uncertainty and change happening, we need to practice good self-care.  If we don’t care well for ourselves, then we compromise our ability and capability to care for others—in the workplace, in our community and at home. 

The Milky Way barely visible between the clouds at Blind Pass on Sanibel Island, FL

Here are a few practical suggestions that can help with the necessity of self-care during this unusually stressful time:

  • Don’t underestimate the power of a connection with God.  Regardless of your faith story or personal spiritual journey, you are more than a physical, emotional being.  Every human is designed to link up with our Creator.  This is literally your “lifeline.”  How else could one explain the desperate pleas, the bargaining, the crying out to a Supernatural power that goes on in every human being in moments of deep need or crisis?  That is a part of our design—a connection with God.  You can nurture that connection during this season with prayer, Scripture reading, inspirational blogs and online worship (https://capechristian.com).
  •  Get outside daily.  I walk two miles every morning while the sun is preparing to come up.  Birds are singing.  Spring has not cancelled its bloom.  Sunshine, clouds, a fresh breeze and some greenery are good for the soul.  Walking or working out daily is good for the body and spirit.  All of the “happy chemicals” of Endorphin, Dopamine, Serotonin and Oxytocin are released into every part of our being. 
  • Practice Gratitude.  List the top three things that you are grateful each day.  Gratefulness is one of the keys to overcoming anxiety.  It reminds us to focus on our blessings and not our burdens.  Gratitude energizes hope.  
  • Stay connected to family and friends.  Phone calls, texts, email, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Google Duo or whatever works for you.  Use this time to check on neighbors who are especially vulnerable.  Relationships are extremely valuable in the middle of crisis or forced isolation.
  • Monitor your rest.  Plenty of sleep will keep your immune system strong.  Practice healthy bedtime routines.  Limit your blue light (screen) exposure late in the evening.  I set my iPhone to automatically move toward a warmer light in the evening.  My goal is at least 7-8 hours hours of solid sleep.
  • Limit the information intake.  It just isn’t healthy to listen to non-stop reports of infections and deaths from COVID-19.  Get your daily update and then move on to something uplifting.  None of us need a constant feed of fear.
  • Be intentional about hydration.  When we are distracted by all the news and out of our routines, we sometimes forget the simplest things.  Staying hydrated is good for the body and helps flush out the toxins.  Drink lots of water. Be extremely careful about the temptation to increase your intake of stimulant or relaxant beverages due to the changes in schedule or extra stress. 

Baby Burrowing Owl in Cape Coral, FL (www.GingerichPhotoArt.com)

  • Do something fun.  Play a game.  Work a puzzle.  Watch a comedy.  Create a craft project.  Cook something special.  Go fishing.  Go kayaking.  Listen to your favorite music.  Go through old photos.  Or in my case, I create photos because that is my go-to hobby and stress-reducer.  Week before last, I called a photographer friend and we each drove separately out to Blind Pass (practicing social distancing) as we captured the Milky Way from 2-5am. Earlier this week, I spent a couple hours at sunrise sitting in my car 15 feet from a Burrowing Owl’s nest, getting some shots of the newly hatched fuzzy babies checking out their new surroundings.  Last night, I traveled to a nearly vacant marina to photograph the rising Super Moon.

It’s not possible to continue caring for or leading others if we are not taking care of ourselves.  Be intentional about taking care of your own body, soul and spirit.  Self-care is not selfish, it’s healthy.  It must be at the top of the priority list during times like this.

QUESTION: What are your most helpful practices of self-care? Sharing your experience below in the comment section will move someone else toward self-care. Thank you! ~ Dennis

5 responses to At the Top of the Priority List

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