Keeping in touch during social isolation

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City Church Christchurch

Lessons from lockdown.

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3 September 2020
By Jonathan D

Back in the early days of COVID-19 quarantine I turned to the daily TV fitness show which aired in the morning for half an hour. I was keen to consider how acceptable it could be to promote lockdown as a personal and professional opportunity. We were encouraged to rethink our routines, take up baking or get started on writing that novel that had been forming in our mind for years. Whatever we took up, we should form new, better habits.

So with all this in mind, I put on my gym kit, slipped on my running trainers, found a suitable position in front of the TV (but away from any obstructions) and off I went.

This lasted less than twenty minutes over just two sessions.

What lockdown and isolation over a raging pandemic brought about was more psychological than physical, but its effects could be felt in changes in both: the lethargy, the sleep disruption, the uncertainty about what was going to arise next, the anxiety about one’s own part in spreading the pandemic, and the “low-grade depression”.

I understand now that we don’t need to emerge from lockdown with new attitudes and skills. It’s OK to be disturbed by a level of anxiety and depression. The greater lesson for me has been that it’s OK simply to carry on being who we are. We exist to be in relationships, a relationship with God and relationships with each other.

When we are part of God’s family, as a member of a church, lockdown reminded me how important our human relationships are. It is so important that we keep in touch and support each other during these times.

A person holding up their mobile phone and video calling their family while at the beach

Communication is key.

It doesn't matter how you keep in touch, it's the act of communicating that is the important part. This could be phoning a friend - a tried and tested method that has been around for over 140 years. Or you could take away the constraints of a phone call and have a conversation at your pace by texting or messaging a friend.

The latest trend, brought forward by the COVID-19 pandemic has been video calling or setting up a conference video call. Like all technology, this can take a bit of getting used to, but practice makes perfect and it’s a nice option for including a group that gets on well together.

Having learnt to rely on these instead of face to face communication, there are a few things which I have learnt as helpful tips for good communication.

  1. Friendship works best when it is reciprocated. Always show an interest in your friends. Ask them questions about themselves.
  2. Make the effort first, don’t always depend on your friends to contact you first. This can take some effort but you may never find out how much your work is appreciated.
  3. Make a habit of listening. Pay attention to what your friends are saying to you, whether verbally or online. You have to be more in the moment when talking than online. Try and work out what is the main point or idea that is being communicated. You can always come back to your friends if you are not clear.
  4. Communication which is not verbal but instead is done via an app is better done in shorter segments than we are used to. It's not a full conversation and you don’t need to say everything. Stick to the point and you can always give more information in further messages.
  5. An element of “intrigue” in posts can keep interest from your friends, but remember you will then have to follow up with the answer to your hanging question!

Wrapping up.

I emphasise, again, that it is OK to be disturbed by a level of anxiety and depression at this time and you don't need to emerge from lockdown with new attitudes and skills or the stamina for a full half hour of fitness.

It is, however, a time for us to continue to find ways to connect and be in relationship with God and each other. And for me, and maybe you, it is OK to come out of this year simply to carry on being who we are.

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