A challenging season coaxes up things to the surface that we may have overlooked in our determination to flourish.
Even if we don’t like them, challenging seasons have a way of showing us we can do things we never thought we could. 2020 has been a difficult in many ways–unlike any year most of have ever experienced. We have learned to do things in new ways as we go forward in a season of unknowns. Women, like you, have found themselves on the front lines of ever shifting responsibilities. Last spring, I shared with a blog post entitled 21 Ways to THRIVE During COVID-19 Social Distancing. I want to continue that conversation this week by doing a deeper dive into six essential tools to carry you through the rest of the year.
As you read and work through each item, please know you are in my prayers!
1. Release yourself from the need to do it all during a challenging season.
Please don’t try to do it all. There is a lot of pressure on us as leaders to constantly adapt to new situations in a challenging season. For many of us, our kids are home. Spouses might be home. Things are so different than this time last year. I want you to give yourself permission not to do it all.
Trying to do it all will only leave you feeling unprepared and burned out. This is no good for your immune system. It’s not good for your mental, emotional, or spiritual health. The need to do it all just contributes to overwhelm and anxiety. Release yourself from trying to do all things for all people. Do what’s manageable today, in the moment.
2. Routines matter.
As you’re deciding what does or does not get your attention, remember that routines matter. In a challenging season when so many of our routines have been blown apart, we’re learning just how much our usual routines kept us healthy, steady, and moving through life in a certain rhythm. There is a lot of disruption right now. It’s going to be challenging but worth it to create a new routine that works for you.
There is a lot of pressure to do all the things like continue to homeschool and work from home. Some of us might have never thought we ever would do either of those things. Take a deep breath. Develop routines that include time to do nothing but spend time with your kids, sit on the couch and drink a cup of hot tea or go outside. We are all feeling some additional level of stress, so include downtime in your routines. We all feel some uncertainty and fear. Your routine needs to give you time to work through those things and take care of what is necessary.
With the kids home, you’re going to need more trash emptied. More meal planning, laundry, and vacuuming. Go ahead and build these into your routine now so you’re not overwhelmed as the holiday season approaches.
3. Take care of your emotional health.
Please don’t minimize the importance of your emotional well-being during a challenging season. Our emotional health impacts every aspect of our lives–including family, relationships, and our ability to think clearly and creatively. It’s too easy to get busy doing all the things in life and ignore this critical part of self-care, but it’s necessary. Many of us are experiencing some level of fear or grief due to things that have been lost or changed, such as graduations, school sports, or in some cases, working outside the home.
It’s important to coax to the surface any emotions you have in this season in order for you to work on them in a healthy way. Take time to work through your feelings when you first become aware rather than shoving them down. Give yourself the space to laugh, cry, and to feel all the messy emotions. These emotions are more difficult to deal with when they pile up unattended. The next time something happens, it could be the thing that causes everything to erupt like a volcano. Build in time every day. Consider seeing a therapist online or offline, a life coach, or a group of people who can be supportive. Your emotional well-being matters.
4. Prioritize creativity.
Each person needs to prioritize creativity. Creativity looks different to each one of us. We are made by God to be creative in different ways. We don’t all need to be painters, sculptors, or writers. There are multiple mediums of creativity for each of us, and now is a perfect time to explore this.
When we spend more time feeling kind of locked down in crisis mode, we start to limit our view. We think in smaller boxes and lose our interest in creativity. We treat beautiful things like going outside and enjoying a walk in the garden or spending time writing as frivolous things. It’s not. You have a creative soul, and you need to make room for that in your life. There is something life-giving in exploring and playing creatively. Give your creative muscles room to run.
5. Find the beauty, joy, and love in your world during a challenging season.
Be open to finding the beauty, joy, and love in your world. Where are good things happening in the world? What reminds you of the joy and beauty? Paint your fireplace. You could hang up decorations for this season or the upcoming holidays. Do something that reminds you of the love you have inside and the love you see in the world around you. Be intentional to stay anchored in what is true. That will make the difference between getting through a challenging season and thriving.
6. Stay connected with your people.
Stay connected with your people virtually. Do more than just texting. There are things that happen with people when you can look them in the eye and hear them speak. This will help us stay connected face to face when this season finally changes into a new season. Lots of people started using apps more since March–apps like Marco Polo, Voxer, and Zoom. There are many ways to stay connected online but sometimes a good old-fashioned phone call is the best medicine for a weary heart.
If you’re looking for an online group to connect with, consider joining my free Facebook group Christian Women Who Lead. There are supportive women of different ages and stages of life who are ready to welcome you. Hope to connect with you soon!
Angela is a Faith Deconstruction Coach and host of The Deconstructing Faith Summit who helps people break free from toxic religious culture & empowers them to recover from #churchhurt. She has led online ministries for a decade, enjoys working with clients 1:1, in groups, and is a dynamic conference speaker. She’s a Lark’s Song Certified Life Coach who reaches thousands of people in 40+ countries each month on Facebook, IG, Twitter, Pinterest, and her blog.
She’s a firstborn, Enneagram 8, Gen Xer who loves to question everything. She holds a BA from Indiana Wesleyan and a Masters in Leadership from Wesley Seminary. Her graduate research project focused on leadership development and opportunities for Gen X women in the US church.
Angela and her unique online ministry are featured in Lyz Lenz’s 2019 book God Land: Story of Faith, Loss, and Renewal in Middle America. She has published articles in Hope for Women and HOPE is Now magazines. She has been featured in The New Republic, Publisher’s Today, and Religion News Service.
Her first book, Deconstructing Your Faith Without Losing Yourself, Will be published by Eerdmans in February 2023.
Angela is also a wife, mom to 5, and a proud resident of Marion, Indiana with her family when they’re not traveling the US in their RV.