And so does Dr. Curt Thompson! I recently read an article by him titled A Body of Work, in which he suggests that this fatigue is real, and there is a good reason for it. He says, “Human beings use our bodies, vis-à-vis our actual words, to communicate upwards to 85-90% of everything we “say.” These nonverbal cues—eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, gestures, timing and intensity of responses—are the body’s portion of what it means to “be” with others and ourselves—to communicate what we are experiencing. We send and we receive vital, live-giving exchanges to each other and this does not require conscious intention to do so. Our bodies are working independently of our conscious, thinking brain, enabling us to love and be loved, to be known and to know, even without the use of words. And this is why we are so much more tired at the end of the day.”
Makes sense, right? To me too! Dr. Thompson offers a few suggestions that might be helpful:
- Make it a practice to take at least three 5-10 minute walks every day. Shorter, more frequent movement not only extends your body’s movement over the course of the day, it also gives you something to look forward to throughout the day, thereby reducing your anxiety along with your irritation.
- If possible, change your location of work in your home. This may be challenging, but different physical locations within your home over time gives your body the awareness of movement by virtue of being in a novel location.
- When possible, stand while doing work, especially when using a screen. This practice enables your body to work even while being less mobile.
- As you are able, limit the number of people on videocalls to three or less. This may sound unreasonable, or impossible. But the fewer people your brain—and body—has to keep track of, the less tired you will be. This may simply sound like common sense. That’s because it is. (This is not at all possible for me.)
- Greet as many people as you can whenever you are able. There is little cost to acknowledging the presence of another person, and we need to be acknowledged even by strangers. Not only will your thinking mind give and receive it, your body will as well.
- Plan for daily singing/worship while standing. Sing along with your most loved YouTube worship video as a means to use your body to tell your mind and soul that you are quite alive—and that you are not alone.
- Talk about your anger. There may be nothing more important than having a close friend or counselor validate that your anger is real and isn’t crazy. Not to mention that talking to someone about your feelings connects you to another person, which in and of itself will reduce your irritability and give you a greater sense of agency.
- Practice contemplative prayer. This form of prayer, especially while standing, strengthens your capacity to live in the present moment which protects against the irritability that emerges in the face of immobility.
Let us stay connected and take care of each other. Taking care of our bodies, our feelings and our souls is necessary! We hope you will stay connected with us through any, or many, of these church offerings.
Beloveds, please be gentle with yourself! We are all doing the best we can. There is no need to prove anything to anyone. “Our bodies are hard at work. And although we are in a season in which we are asking them to work differently and harder than usual, know that you are not alone, and your work is not in vain.” Our bodies need rest and tender care. We are all learning to do new things or same things in a new way, and we are all learning and struggling! Let us continue to be mindful of that and pray together for all those who are working hard to find a cure for this virus. Let us all do our part -- by continuing to stay home, stay safe and stay well.