Tag Archives: COVID

Choosing Gratitude (Guest Post)

Choosing Gratitude

By Steph Beth Nickel

Twenty twenty.

Enough said. Right?

COVID. Hurricanes. Wildfires. And so much more.

Pivot has become a way of life and “overwhelm” a state of being.

Remember back in the olden days—say this time last year? Maybe you were looking forward to 2020. Maybe you’d purchased a shiny new planner and had begun filling it in with goals and dreams for the following 12 months.

And then—March!

True confessions. For the first little while, I was relieved not to have so many obligations on my To Do list. (Bear in mind that I didn’t know anyone who had COVID. In fact, the number in my community has remained relatively small.)

When I thought about it, the word surreal came to mind.

As an extrovert desperately in need of continued “human contact,” I began to listen to more audiobooks and podcasts. Familiar voices and all.

While the optimists declared we would have so much more time for those projects we’d been putting off, it soon became clear that lethargy, lack of motivation, and full-fledged depression were taking their toll on many people. Even though I’m typically positive and upbeat, I found a heaviness settling in.

While I was able to keep up with my church work, I did very little writing and editing. I simply didn’t have the wherewithal or mental ambition.

When laziness, procrastination, and pandemics hit, we have to make a choice. (We may also need counseling, and those who seek it are to be commended. And in some cases, physician-prescribed medication is the right route to take.)

Still, gratitude is an important practice for all of us.

Since Ann Voskamp released One Thousand Gifts in 2011, many people have begun to keep a gratitude journal.

It’s actually amazing how quickly we can think of 1000 things to be thankful for—when we set our mind to it.

Where should you look for things to add to your gratitude journal?

  • Make a list of family and friends and things you appreciate about each of them.
  • Consider the people who indirectly and unknowingly make your life easier and more secure each day.
  • Make a list of material blessings you are especially thankful for—and then move on to those that simply make your life more enjoyable.
  • Instead of focusing on those things you are unable to do, make a list of things you can do.
  • If you’re able, go for a walk and be mindful of all the things around you that you have to be thankful for—including the ability to see, hear, feel, move, and think.
  • Make a list of unexpected blessings. While this may take longer, it will warm your heart and, perhaps, easy the heaviness.
  • Whether you’re attending church services in person or watching them online, there are many people working together—and a lot of tech—needed to make it possible.

These are only a handful of ideas, but they can get you started.

When we choose gratitude, it won’t make COVID go away. It won’t put an end to natural disasters. And it won’t magically cure anxiety and depression. However, it is an important discipline and will remind us just how much we have to be thankful for.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? What are you especially thankful for these days? Where do you look for ideas?

Tweets

Twenty twenty. Enough said. Right? (click to tweet)

Gratitude is an important practice. (click to tweet)

Gratitude is an important discipline and will remind us just how much we have to be thankful for. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.

An Extrovert’s Journey through Months of Social Distancing (Guest Post)

Steps and trail, with text: "An extrovert's journey through social distancing"

An Extrovert’s Journey through Months of Social Distancing

by Steph Beth Nickel

I gave up listening to the news … well, when one still did so at 6:00 PM on network television.

And then the headlines became virtually unavoidable thanks to the worldwide web.

And then … COVID-19.

Our world changed overnight.

Some people got sucked into the 24/7 coverage of the virus. Some tried to avoid it altogether. Whether sheltering in our homes or trying to live life as we’ve always done, there’s no denying our world has changed. But what about us?

You might think that introverts aren’t struggling as much as extroverts, but that’s oversimplifying the situation. (Click to tweet)

It’s one thing to choose to come apart and recharge your batteries. It’s another thing to be told you have no choice. For those living on their own, it can become very lonely—depressing even. And no matter how much introverts love their family, it may be challenging to share the same four walls with them day in and day out.

And while there are memes about how difficult social distancing and sheltering in place have been on those of us who are extroverts, there is another side to the story.

Given, I share my home with my hubby, and we love spending time together. I have been allowed to continue working—while keeping my social distance from co-workers and keeping the doors of the church locked. That has made it easier on me than many people.

Plus, I have discovered how nice it is to have fewer obligations. Sure, I have a mile-long To Do list, but most things are far less time-sensitive than before. There are fewer people counting on me to be at a certain place at a certain time on a certain day.

Still, there have been indicators of how this situation has affected me. Can you relate?

  1. I spent so much time talking to my pastor that he had to admit he’d become frustrated. He is a task-oriented introvert. So, you can see the challenges with the two of us working together at the best of times. (I often refer to myself as “an extrovert on steroids.”)
  2. Although I didn’t spend much time watching the news, I was aware of what was going on. I’d spend the evening on the couch, overwhelmed by the surreal days we are living in, and often fall asleep early. (I may be an early bird, but I didn’t used to fall asleep before 8:00.)
  3. I became mildly resentful when I got the impression that someone thought I should be doing more. I suppose I was well-aware already of what I wasn’t getting done and couldn’t imagine taking on anything more. To an extent, I became withdrawn. I haven’t reached out to family, friends, and neighbours the way others have, even others who would normally find it more difficult than I do.

But during this time there have been many blessings as well.

  1. My pastor confessed that he had become frustrated. I explained that talking was my way of processing the situation. And we settled into a routine that has been better for both of us.
  2. Some evenings I still fall asleep early, but those evenings are fewer and further between. Now, I intentionally go to bed between 9:00 and 10:00 and get up at 4:00, so I can get some things done when I’m fresh and (somewhat) more raring to go.

    And…
  3. While not having as many obligations as pre-COVID, restrictions have begun to ease up some, and I’ve been sharing my space, at a safe distance of course, with more people. And, wow, have I missed it! I’m still a little overwhelmed with all the changes we’re going to have to implement going forward, but I look forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in months—even if I can’t give them a hug. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed being around them.

How about you? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Alone or sharing your space with family? How have you been coping these last few months?

Other Tweetables:

I’d spend the evening on the couch, overwhelmed by the surreal days we are living in. (Click to tweet)

I look forward to seeing people I haven’t seen in months—even if I can’t give them a hug. (Click to tweet)

Join the conversation below!

Steph Beth Nickel
Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel is an editor, writer, and birth doula. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com; join her Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2725853534313738; or visit her website-in-progress: nurtureandinspire.com.