Yesterday evening, I did a Zoom call with some leaders in the United Sates that was broadcast live on Facebook. The topic of the discussion was about mobilising people during times of government-enforced isolation.
What was interesting about the chat is the fact that here in France we are on day four of lockdown while it has not yet happened in the United States—although reports this morning are saying it started in California last night.
It has also not been enforced in the UK, Ireland, and Australia where I have a lot of friends and family, so multiple times a day I get the same question: What's it like and what do you do?
In this post, I want to give some tips and advice about what to do when going outside is not an option.
1. Structure your day
This is vital if you want to retain some sort of control over your situation. Keeping a routine will bring order in times that seem chaotic. I have been working from home five days now and have found the following helps me stay anchored: I get up and pray, have breakfast followed by a shower, and then start my work day.
It's easy to stay in PJs or sweat pants at a time like this, but putting yourself together as if you're heading out to a face-to-face meeting gives you an edge you are not going to have if you sit around all day feeling crusty.
Structuring the day also means factoring in time to step away from the computer and go for a short walk. I also recommend sticking to the same meal patterns and being able to switch off from work at a reasonable hour.
Lastly, don't numb out on Netflix or binge-watch too many shows. It's easy to fall into the pattern of spending all your time on a screen—playing video games or otherwise—but it's escapism that only leads you down a deeper, darker hole. Watch a movie at the end of the day as your reward.
2. Stay in touch with people
FaceTime and Zoom have been invaluable these past few days. I text a lot of people on a day-to-basis anyway, but I feel for this particular time it needs to be replaced with video calling. Encouraging friends and chatting with them on screen is far more personal than a text message. Keep regular contact with loved ones and call them out of the blue.
This may also be a time to get in touch with someone you've been meaning to catch up with for ages. Pay extra attention to those who live alone. Remember, we're all in the same boat.
3. Read books
What book have you been putting off reading because you've been too busy? Last night I downloaded Thirst by Scott Harrison to my Kindle. It's a memoir by the founder of Charity: Water and is fascinating. We have similar stories—booze, cocaine, night clubs, Jesus.
This can be a time to learn something new through literature. Whether it's a biography, fiction, self-help, or other genre of book, reading is calming, it exercises the brain and enhances empathy and imagination, and it also boosts sleep, and strengthens writing ability.
4. Keep a journal
We are living in an unprecedented time. Document it! Write some words each day about how you feel, how others feel, what you are experiencing, etc. I haven't blogged for years but I do keep a journal and this period of time has boosted my creativity.
I have rediscovered the joy of writing for an audience again and having interaction with people through comments and emails. Having written memories of this era will be something fun to look back on in years to come.
5. Try something new
I have decided to plank during my time of confinement. This is probably not for everyone and I'm most likely setting myself up for suffering, but it'll help tick the days off and divert my focus from wishing I was exercising outside.
All that stuff you've been wanting to get rid of/donate, now is the time to sort through it.
7. Play board games
This is especially important for families with kids stuck at home. Between homeschooling and being together all the time, tensions can rise. Board games are a good way to have fun and keep the focus on relationships instead of accomplishments.
Lastly, this unparalleled time in our history truly is a season for us to grow as individuals and as a community. It is a time to replace fear with creativity and find opportunity in the midst of uncertainty.
At this momentous juncture, let's chose to be inwardly reflective instead of outwardly reflexive.
Originally from Ireland, Malcolm McLoughlin has called Paris, France home for the past eleven years. An alcoholic and drug addict turned ultra-marathon runner, author of The Second Lap, and a speaker, with his greatest passion being to see people know the transformative power of a life lived for Jesus. He is married to Val and has two children. Find out more about him at www.malcolmmcloughlin.com/