If your family is anything like ours, you may be finding the sudden enforced social isolation somewhat disorienting, as normal routines and social interactions have gone out the window, and family life has suddenly become 24/7. In our family, my husband and I are now working from home, and our young-adult daughters have had to move back home from Avondale University College. As we’re learning how to navigate this new reality, these are some things that we’ve found helpful:
Practicing gratitude each day. Positive psychology research reveals that gratitude is “strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness”.1 The Scriptures, from the Old Testament to the New, also exhort us to “give thanks” and to “be thankful!” We make it a practice to identify 10 things we are thankful for each morning. Most days it’s easy; some days it’s hard. I had a difficult day last week when I had to come to terms with the fact that we’d sold our house at just the wrong time, and would have to move during a lockdown without having a new home to go to. I went to bed at 8pm and cried. When I woke up and my husband said, “What are you thankful for today?”, I didn’t feel very thankful for anything. But he started to tell God about the things he was thankful for, and by the time he was at number three, I was ready to join him in giving thanks. We then went for a long walk and by the time we came back my self-pity had lifted.
Exercising outdoors each day. Green space has been shown to have positive effects on mental health,2 as has exercise.3 Put them together and you have a powerful antidote to anxiety and depression. We’ve discovered several new walking tracks near our home, which we are enjoying. Our daughters take roller-blades and long-boards and tear around the tracks while we try to clock up 5km. We always come home feeling better.