Dealing with Down Time
A person can only watch so much Netflix. Non-stop cable news wearies the mind with too much screen time and incessant headlines. You can check Instagram or Facebook only so many times before your eyes glaze over in boredom. At some point, we all reach our media saturation limit.
Unaccustomed and ill-equipped to handle so much unstructured time in our schedule, we are asking “How do I deal with all this down time without going mad?” Rather than fast moving days full of hectic energy and overcrowded calendars, we are having to endure life at a snail’s pace through great big days of empty space and unstructured existence. What ever will we do?
First, instead of pushing against the time, we can pull it in closely. We can choose to embrace the gift of quiet and solitude. In quietness and trust is your strength, says the Lord. We can sit outside and feel the warmth of sunshine on overly air-conditioned skin. When is the last time you felt grass under your bare feet? We can choose to rest, which is a thoroughly biblical concept, and allow this time to re-set our bio-rhythms to improved levels of mental and physical health. Learn to carry some quiet with you.
We can use this time to read those wonderful books which have grown dusty from sitting untouched on our shelves or nightstands. We can do any number of thousands of activities which have resided in the “mean-to’s” and the “one-day’s” of our minds. Paint. Sew. Write. Pray. Fix that old lawn mower in the garage. Play with the kids. Welcome the time as an old friend, I sure have missed you.
Second, we can add structure to our unstructured days. Rather than wandering aimlessly through tomorrow, set about your time with intention and deliberation. Throughout history, Christians in various cultures and time periods have observed regular moments of prayer. They would often set aside three times for daily prayer: in the morning, mid-day, and in the evening. Imagine what it could do for you to pray three times daily through this experience of quarantine?
It would be wise to set a time for daily exercise. God created humanity with the intention of work. In work’s absence, we need to expel energy and our physical resources to stay healthy. You can also structure some sort of ministry into your day. Schedule a time each day when you will call on friends and neighbors who are isolated. Write emails and text messages of encouragement. Don’t wade around in a pool of self-pity and apathy, choose to lift-up someone else each day.
Doesn’t that sound better than binge watching another tv series?